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Politics Is Identity Politics

[ 514 ] November 21, 2016 |
President Reagan greets Sen. Jesse Helms at a dinner honoring the North Carolina Republican in this June 16, 1983 photo in Washington. (AP Photo, Ed Reinke)

President Reagan greets Sen. Jesse Helms at a dinner honoring the North Carolina Republican in this June 16, 1983 photo in Washington. (AP Photo, Ed Reinke)

Above: Remember the Good Old Days, When Politicians Avoided Appeals to Racial Identity?


I was going to ignore Mark Lilla’s “identity politics” essay — it’s pretty much the definition of self-refuting — until I saw that Bernie get back on the “class not identity” chicken. So let us get to the grim task at hand:

The moral energy surrounding identity has, of course, had many good effects. Affirmative action has reshaped and improved corporate life. Black Lives Matter has delivered a wake-up call to every American with a conscience. Hollywood’s efforts to normalize homosexuality in our popular culture helped to normalize it in American families and public life.

Note here that Lilla is playing the same card from the center that is sometimes played from the consciously anti-liberal left, identifying “improved corporate life” and “Hollywood’s efforts” as the primary goals of “identity politics,” and describing the end goal of Black Life Matters as delivering a “wake-up call.” The silliness of Lilla’s argument would be more ready if he identified products of “the moral energy surrounding identity” like the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act, additional antidiscrimination laws at the federal and state level, a federally established right for a woman to choose to obtain an abortion, a federal right to same-sex-marriage, etc. This would also allow us to see that far from being settled issues these rights are all under serious threat and many or all are about to be diminished severely during a Trump administration. A “wake-up call” is not enough to address the effects of unjustified police violence and mass incarceration. And of course, none of these issues can be meaningfully separated from class. It isn’t affluent women in big cities who will have their effective access to safe abortions severely curtailed if Roe v. Wade is further cut back or overruled. Mass incarceration combined with felon disenfranchisement (and other forms of vote suppression) is crucial to Republicans maintaining advantages in state and federal legislatures. Lilla gives away the show by trivializing the issues at stake from the get-go.

But the fixation on diversity in our schools and in the press has produced a generation of liberals and progressives narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups, and indifferent to the task of reaching out to Americans in every walk of life

I dunno, just me but I would say that the ongoing segregation of our schools is a far greater factor in any such bubble that any alleged “fixation on diversity.” Whoops — did I just engage in “identity politics” by noting the concrete effects of ongoing racial discrimination and their material effects on American politics? Sorry about that!

By the time they reach college many assume that diversity discourse exhausts political discourse, and have shockingly little to say about such perennial questions as class, war, the economy and the common good.

I have to say, I’d like to see some actual evidence for such claims. It sure seemed like Sanders’s appeals on economic policy were effective at reaching young people who only care about diversity.

How to explain to the average voter the supposed moral urgency of giving college students the right to choose the designated gender pronouns to be used when addressing them?

Who could possibly care about the dignity of a group of people routinely subjected to discrimination, harassment, and violence, amiright? Where is the MORAL URGENCY?

This campus-diversity consciousness has over the years filtered into the liberal media, and not subtly. Affirmative action for women and minorities at America’s newspapers and broadcasters has been an extraordinary social achievement — and has even changed, quite literally, the face of right-wing media, as journalists like Megyn Kelly and Laura Ingraham have gained prominence. But it also appears to have encouraged the assumption, especially among younger journalists and editors, that simply by focusing on identity they have done their jobs.

First, I would say that the attempted diversification of the major American media is an…incomplete project. Second, an alleged tendency among journalists “simply by focusing on identity they have done their jobs” is something I’m going to need more evidence for than random anecdotes from someone who’s obsessed with spotting “identity politics” while sojourning in Europe.

But it is at the level of electoral politics that identity liberalism has failed most spectacularly, as we have just seen. National politics in healthy periods is not about “difference,” it is about commonality.

I see, so Donald Trump riding the politics of white resentment to the White House is the fault of “identity liberalism?” And when have American politics ever not involved “difference”? Wait, he has an answer:

And it will be dominated by whoever best captures Americans’ imaginations about our shared destiny

He wrote this in the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump winning a presidential election. Really.

Ronald Reagan did that very skillfully

Remember that campaign that started in Philadelphia, Mississippi talking about states’ rights and talked about strapping young bucks buying Cadillacs with welfare checks? It was an appeal to our shared destiny that did not involve a politics of “difference.”

So did Bill Clinton, who took a page from Reagan’s playbook. He seized the Democratic Party away from its identity-conscious wing,

That’s…one way of looking at it!

concentrated his energies on domestic programs that would benefit everyone (like national health insurance) and defined America’s role in the post-1989 world. By remaining in office for two terms, he was then able to accomplish much for different groups in the Democratic coalition.

It’s interesting though — he might have “focused” on national healthcare reform legislation, but he didn’t preside over its enactment, although he did sign a terrible welfare reform bill, a terrible anti-LBGT bill, and some bad crime control bills. (None of which had anything to do with identity politics, of course.)

I do have a very dim memory of a politician who is not mentioned in Lilla’s piece. He abandoned Clinton’s “seizure” of the party from its “identity-conscious wing.” If I recall correctly, this guy not only won two terms in office but actually signed a major health care reform law, as well as several more good laws and many fewer bad ones than Clinton. Anyone remember?

We need a post-identity liberalism, and it should draw from the past successes of pre-identity liberalism. Such a liberalism would concentrate on widening its base by appealing to Americans as Americans and emphasizing the issues that affect a vast majority of them. It would speak to the nation as a nation of citizens who are in this together and must help one another. As for narrower issues that are highly charged symbolically and can drive potential allies away, especially those touching on sexuality and religion, such a liberalism would work quietly, sensitively and with a proper sense of scale. (To paraphrase Bernie Sanders, America is sick and tired of hearing about liberals’ damn bathrooms.)

Nah. Also, on what planet did Hillary Clinton not appeal “to Americans as Americans” or “emphasize issues that affect the vast majority of them?” You’d think from Lilla’s account that Clinton’s speeches consisted of thirty seconds of shout-outs to various democratic constituencies, “elect me, I’m a woman!” and leaving the stage. It’s certainly true that the media failed to report on the important economic issues that Clinton’s campaign talked about constantly, but I don’t think an excessive concern with “identity politics” is the problem. Have our schools with their excessive fixation on diversity caused the media to become selectively obsessed with email server management?

But, of course, takes like this never address what candidates are actually saying. As always, any election with a bad result means that the Democratic Party should do what the pundit is saying it should be doing had it won. But advocates changing the direction of the party need to make a case on the merits, and in this case I’m giving a hard pass.

…Echidne has more.


Comments (514)

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  1. sleepyirv says:

    “To paraphrase Bernie Sanders, America is sick and tired of hearing about liberals’ damn bathrooms.)”

    Ask Pat McCrory how putting this theory into practice worked out for him.

    • Hercules Mulligan says:

      Yeah, funny how that works?

      SNL also got in on the increasingly-common “lol trans people lost the election” grift this weekend. Offensive and moronic under any circumstances, but hilarious given that McCrory lost (unless he steals the election)

      • Little Chak says:

        It’s like we’re right back to “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, not having learned a single damn thing. “Just wait…the timing is not right for justice.”

        I brace myself to cringe whenever Weekend Update switches back to Jost.

      • los says:

        Hercules Mulligan says: hilarious given that McCrory lost (unless he steals the election)

        Oh you naughty liberal, now you’re playing the election thieves “identity” card (and “intolerating” an election thief).


    • mds says:

      Ask Pat McCrory how putting this theory into practice worked out for him.

      He’s going to continue waving horseshit allegations of voter fraud until such time as the North Carolina legislature uses that law to vote to reinstall him as governor anyway. In other words, it will probably work out splendidly for him.

  2. CrunchyFrog says:

    Edit: Lilla, not Obama (who is who you are hinting about).

    I do have a very dim memory of a politician who is not mentioned in Obama’s piece.

  3. Hercules Mulligan says:

    Agree with all of the rant on Lilla. But the TPM article, as many have pointed out, is bogus. Sanders did not state or endorse anything along those lines, as both the transcript of his speech and the reactions of those attending show.

    • tonycpsu says:

      as both the transcript of his speech and the reactions of those attending show.

      Links please? Unless the quoted parts are totally fabricated, or preceded by “these are things a total asshole would say”, then their inclusion in his speech is inexcusable.

        • tonycpsu says:

          OK, I see nothing exculpatory in the broader context. It’s still a straw man argument that makes it sound like Democrats just want to win by checking demographic boxes. It’s the same fucking fight he lost in the primary, and he can’t seem to get past it.

          • Brien Jackson says:

            Right, and he’s clearly defining Clinton/Obama as the priblem and the working class as entirely white.

          • Dilan Esper says:

            It’s the same fucking fight he lost in the primary, and he can’t seem to get past it.

            Well, when the person you lost the fight to goes on to lose rust belt working class voters in the general and lose the election, I’d say he has the right to bring it back up.

            And that’s what I don’t like about Scott’s post. I basically agree with him on the merits. I think it’s incredibly privileged for white people to complain about identity politics when marginalized groups suddenly start using it as a powerful weapon.

            But that’s a different issue from what wins elections and the post-election autopsy of the Democratic Party. And in that context, it may be that class based appeals do constitute a better electoral formula, especially when you don’t have the first black President on the ticket.

            • tonycpsu says:

              Rust-belt working class whites aren’t the only swing voters. FL and NC add up to the same number of votes as WI, MI, and OH. Hillary lost those states as well, but why is all the talk about the Rust Belt when it’s easy to make the case that the left’s message can resonate better in NC and FL without turning off voters that might be turned off by this Sanders-style microtargeting of aggrieved whites?

              • Dilan Esper says:

                Florida and North Carolina are: (1) a traditional swing state and (2) a state that the Democrats have only won once in recent memory.

                Wisconsin and Michigan are traditional Democratic states that we suddenly lost this year. (Ohio is a swing state, but was lost after we lost the same voters as cost us the other rust belt states.)

                Plus Pennsylvania, another Democratic state we lost.

                That’s why we are talking about the rust belt.

                The real issue is there are some Democrats who are like Butch Van Breda Kolff in the NBA Finals– he’d rather win with Wilt on the bench, and they’d rather win without the rust belt white voters. The problem is, Van Breda Kolff ended up losing with Wilt on the bench.

                • postmodulator says:

                  Florida is full of Rust Belt retirees anyway, right? Given the small margin it could just be the same demographic transplanted south.

                • tonycpsu says:

                  Florida and North Carolina are: (1) a traditional swing state and (2) a state that the Democrats have only won once in recent memory.

                  Yes, but they’re about to get easier. That’s not to say they’ll be cinch blue states in 2020, but it’s easier to compete in states where the voters are coming toward your ideology than running away from it.

                  Plus Pennsylvania, another Democratic state we lost.

                  I’ve lived in PA all my life. Parts of Western PA and the “T” skew toward Trumpism, but it’s not by any means a Rust Belt state. It’s neither fish nor fowl. Trying to conflate the unique dynamics here with the actual Rust Belt is a shameless attempt to capitalize on Trump’s victory to push an agenda.

                • Scott Lemieux says:

                  it may be that class based appeals do constitute a better electoral formula

                  Clinton ran the most class-based campaign of a Democratic candidate in a long time. It lost (well, “lost”) to Trump, who placed a particular emphasis on identity politics when previous GOP candidates had tried to downplay it.

                  Florida…a state that the Democrats have only won once in recent memory.

                  Yeah, no. [Saw Denverite’s correction my misreading below.]

                • Denverite says:

                  Florida…a state that the Democrats have only won once in recent memory.

                  Yeah, no.

                  I think he means that Florida is a swing state, and NC is a state the Dems have won once in recent memory.

                • gmack says:

                  It lost (well, “lost”) to Trump, who placed a particular emphasis on identity politics when previous GOP candidates had tried to downplay it.

                  This can’t be stated often enough. Trump, in effect, based a crucial part of his campaign message in a call for reparations. It just happened to be a call for reparations for white people (poor working class stiffs who have been harmed by structural changes in the economy and who deserve extra benefits, empathy, and concern). It is only through the most egregious sleight of hand (and outright racist amnesia) that allows this appeal to magically transform into an appeal to the working class as such.

                • los says:

                  Scott Lemieux says:

                  Trump, who placed a particular emphasis on identity politics

                  No, Neo-Nazis aren’t an “identity”; they’re traditional values heartland america

                  /neo-nazi/white nationalist/white identity/altcuck/microcephaly-culturalist/boiled playdohh frog “identity politics” Richard B Snowflake Spencer

              • xq says:

                Most swing voters in NC and FL are also aggrieved whites.

                • tonycpsu says:

                  Perhaps — I’d like to see data on this to be sure — but either way, the demographics are trending in the right direction in these states, unlike the Rust Belt. NC has more college-educated whites coming in plus a growing latinx population, and FL has the massive growth of latinos combined with the normalization of Cuba relations which is likely to get rid of the pesky problem of Cubans voting for Republicans.

            • witlesschum says:

              Well, when the person you lost the fight to goes on to lose rust belt working class voters in the general and lose the election, I’d say he has the right to bring it back up.

              Put the word white in there if you mean it. Clinton won working class voters in Michigan, or else she’d have lost by way more.

              • Dilan Esper says:

                No I actually mean “working class voters she needed to win”.

                • tonycpsu says:

                  “Because their votes count triple, you see.”

                • Dilan Esper says:

                  No, because they voted for Obama and then Trump.

                  Not everything about this argument you disagree with is racial.

                • tonycpsu says:

                  She had many other avenues to winning. When you’re talking about 100k voters split between three states, it’s equally as wrong to say any one factor caused her to lose as it is to say that any one factor could have won it for her. Comparing to Obama assumes Obama candidates grow on trees, and that the Obama coalition is the only template for Democratic victory.

                • Dilan Esper says:

                  I agree there was not one single factor. But this is one POSSIBLE avenue, which is why the people bringing it up are not a bunch of racists.

                  (Honestly my default belief is that the Dems didn’t actually do a ton wrong and just lost to a celebrity in a celebrity obsessed culture. But if you are going to make some changes, looking at rust belt voters seems logical and non-racist.)

                • tonycpsu says:

                  OK, then it’s just coincidence that they pick the plan that involves courting people who are already hostile to the Democratic platform.

                • Dilan Esper says:

                  Since they voted for Obama, you shouldn’t assume they are hostile to the Democratic platform.

                  Most likely, they are hostile only to a couple of parts of it.

                • tonycpsu says:

                  Obama, in addition to being a uniquely charismatic candidate, was working with the anti-incumbent “throw the bum out” factor, not against it as Clinton was. The results are not comparable.

                • Dilan Esper says:

                  Maybe not. But that’s a conversation worth having rather than pretermitting it with a declaration that any attempt to go after a white voter is off the table.

                • tonycpsu says:

                  Please at least keep the goalposts inside the stadium. You were the one explicitly saying she needed them to win, now you’re trying to reframe it as a more abstract conversation about which groups were needed.

                • BartletForGallifrey says:

                  Since they voted for Obama, you shouldn’t assume they are hostile to the Democratic platform.

                  Most likely, they are hostile only to a couple of parts of it.

                  It’s adorable that you think the swing voters of America are capable of understanding the link between a politician and a party platform.

                • Dilan Esper says:

                  Tony, I haven’t moved them one bit. I was describing why Sanders had a non-racist reason to talk about rust belt voters.

                  And Bartlet I never said they read the platform.

                • witlesschum says:

                  She needed a couple thousand extra voters to win Michigan. Going hunting after white people isn’t the only place to find them.

                • brewmn says:

                  You do realize that WI, MI and PA have been trending Republican, at least at the state level, for over a decade now, don’t you?

                  Because, as a neighbor and frequent visitor to two of those states, I’d love to realize that I just made up Scott Walker and Rick Snyder.

                • Dilan Esper says:

                  witless, I never said it was.

                  But I do object, stenuously, to the idea that any effort to go after those voters is some sort of racist betrayal of minorities.

                  If someone wants to write off those voters, they better have a pretty good model showing where the voters will be made up elsewhere.

            • cpinva says:

              “But that’s a different issue from what wins elections”

              and, based on the primary results, Sanders would have lost even worse. his main target demographic was white people, in lilly-white states. so, he would have lost both the racist/etc. whites, along with all the minorities that HRC got.

              I am getting really, really tired of being told how, after he got beaten to death in the Democratic primaries, that somehow he would still have been a better general candidate than HRC. he obviously wouldn’t have, or he’d have won the damn nomination. he’d have been slaughtered in the general.

              • Dilan Esper says:

                cp, he didn’t have the Clinton scandals and the rust belt agreed with him and hated Clinton on trade.

                As tired as you are of that argument, it’s not a terrible one. Hillary may have been less electable. It’s a fallacy to assume that the centrist is always more electable than the leftist or that primary results show electability.

                My hunch, though, is the real issue us Trump’s celebrity and any Dem loses.

          • Donna Gratehouse says:

            Nor did I but we’ve reached Chair Truther stage with this now.

        • Oh, that’s not so bad.

          All he’s saying is if you want to be a Democrat or a D candidate, you should be a Democrat. The D party is s party, not an NGO devoted to the welfare of all women. Let there be Repiblican feminists and women’s advocates too, if those women want to be Republicans.

          eta I can’t get the second column of text to show up yet though, if that’s really there.

          • SIS1 says:

            That is an interesting take on what is a “Democrat”

          • cpinva says:

            “Let there be Repiblican feminists and women’s advocates too, if those women want to be Republicans.”

            except, of course, that would be an oxymoron. to be a republican is to the be the antithesis of a feminist or woman’s advocate. unless, of course, you considered Phyllis Schlafly a feminist, or woman’s advocate. most thinking people don’t.

            • There are lots of different feminisms. I would rather admit that the advocate of unregulated free markets who thinks women are caring, unambitious creatures, who have a horror of rigorous conceptual or logical thinking, is both a feminist and a Republican (who deserves the chance to advocate for her preferences to those who agree with her), than take the advocacy of non-logical education for girls into the Democratic Party I belong to.

              But then I’m a liberal and liberals don’t believe there’s only one correct belief system everybody should be buying into.

      • Hercules Mulligan says:

        I certainly think the guy has long had what we might call the Al Gore-problem. He never prepares himself for the possibility that he may be misquoted, and so does not structure his speeches in a way to avoid misconception.

        There’s a number of debunkings of this article, including some links from Jamelle Bouie’s twitter feed. This is the first one I found, will look for others: (it’s another thread)

        • tonycpsu says:

          As I replied above, nothing in the context changes the fact that he’s making straw man arguments against Democrats for being identity-politics-only. It’s “both, and” instead of Sanders’ “no war but class war.”

          • Hercules Mulligan says:

            Literally nowhere in the speech does he call on democrats to abandon any war “but class war,” and in the wake of victory by a white supremacist president, he repeatedly called on his supporters to fight bigotry– the local press understood this, and reported on that as the CORE of the speech!

            • tonycpsu says:

              The TPM post zeroed on on the problem. You want to focus on the surrounding context. That context shows that there’s more to his argument, but does not change that part of his argument is railing against unnamed Democrats who want to vote for someone only because of their identity. The fact that your lunch may be 99% burrito and 1% E. coli doesn’t mean you should eat it.

              • DrDick says:

                You seem to be reading a different speech than I did.

                • tonycpsu says:

                  Can we agree that the speech contained the phrase “It is not good enough for somebody to say, ‘I’m a woman, vote for me.’ That is not good enough,”? And an almost identical statement about latinas asking people to vote for them merely because of their identity?

                  Can we also agree that no Democrat living or dead has asked people to vote for them just because of their identity, making Sanders’ remarks a straw man attack?

                • Drexciya says:

                  We should also agree that even if it weren’t a strawman, even if it were discussing a substantive flaw with how diversity is understood (which it isn’t), it’s incredibly disrespectful and incurious about the necessity of and impact of representation and inclusion, which diversity often indirectly acts as a shorthand for. It refuses to address the equal legitimacy of representation and how representation and the lack thereof affects whose politics get an equal say and what that say will be. It refuses to see the white concentration in institutions like the Senate compromises its legitimacy and its ability to be flexibly responsive to other demographics, and he avoids seeing that as an inherent problem that has equal, on-the-merits reasons for opposition and disruption. Furthermore, he projects a standard for legitimate non-white participation in politics that’s never, ever been a barrier for white participation in the same, and doesn’t acknowledge that he’s doing so.

                  Does he think that his experience having a “white working class background” doesn’t usefully shape his politics and priorities? The same is true for being a black person with experience with/understanding of racism, or a Latina with connections to communities/cultures Sanders isn’t a part of. There are excellent reasons why, say, a black congressman who represents black people in Georgia doesn’t sound like a white Senator representing white people in a white state. These are the same reasons why he feels he can maintain the pose of being an advocate for an inclusive left, despite critiquing diversity in the same speech where he says a majority of Trump voters aren’t racist.

                  Edit: I will also reiterate how telling it us that many liberal/leftist spaces think they’re capable of being so despite residing in and speaking from the lilyest of lily-white perches, and how under-emphasized/prioritized representation is when it comes to the expression and articulation of left-interests.

            • DrDick says:

              Agree completely and actually agree with him in general terms, as he is calling for continuing emphasis on equality for all and for a renewed emphasis on helping the working classes. I do think not think he has fully acknowledged that you cannot reduce gender and racial discrimination to class, however, which is a continuing problem. He is getting better though.

  4. Karen24 says:

    Sanders’ speech can be summarized as “why don’t you bitches and queers shut up and leave the politics to us men, like it’s supposed to be?”

    • Hercules Mulligan says:

      Ah, an offensive deliberate misreading. Thank goodness. I was worried this post would be enjoyable, cathartic dunking on Lilla instead of pointless, false smears.

      • Murc says:

        It’s Karen. I love Karen, but she’s been smearing Sanders for the past year and shows no signs of slowing down now.

      • SIS1 says:

        And yet, in his Speech Sanders doesn’t bother to speak about abortion, or gay marriage, or those “identity” issues that matter to many more than “Wall Street dominates me!”.

        • Davis X. Machina says:

          He doesn’t speak about them, because he doesn’t When the prevailing mode of production, to wit, late finance capitalism, is swept away, all these issues of gender and race which it supports, and are supported by it, will also be swept away.

          • (((Hogan))) says:

            Trump will do his best to make the state wither away.

          • SIS1 says:

            Yeah, if only……

          • Snuff curry says:

            “Race” and “gender” as the easy, superficial -isms distracting us from more important tasks at hand. As though racism isn’t as deeply entrenched, as if misogyny only just appeared on the scene, a small decadence found only in late-stage capitalism.

            Where color- and genderblindness, when institutionalized, somehow will function differently from the white male affirmative action we lived with for the past dozen centuries.

    • postmodulator says:

      This is an awful thing to say about a fundamentally decent man who may be dead wrong on the merits here.

      • witlesschum says:

        Why does Bernie Sanders need to be handled with kid gloves? I voted for him, I didn’t marry him. There’s no need to stick with a politician through thick and thin.

        • liberal says:

          Fair enough, but if I had a nickel for every commenter I’ve seen on the web who thought Obama was the second coming and is correct on every single issue out there, I’d be richer than Bezos.

          • witlesschum says:

            I wish you had those nickels, but you wouldn’t have gotten any from me. I try to be both a nodding along with Jacobin type and a political realist, which isn’t a recipe for wild enthusiasms.

      • BartletForGallifrey says:

        a fundamentally decent man

        He’s a selfish, bitter, sexist man who contributed to the rise of fascism in America because he couldn’t handle being beaten by a girl and a bunch of black people.

        • Horseshit. He campaigned for Clinton right up to the end.

          • BartletForGallifrey says:

            Yeah, starting in…August? September? After he finished his book. Long after the primary was over.

          • ForkyMcSpoon says:

            Yeah, I’m not going to say he didn’t try.

            What I would say is that he maybe should’ve done more events. Yes, he really kicked into high gear at the end, but the threat of Trump was worse than McCain was. And I dunno that might’ve been partly Clinton’s fault, as it seems like she probably should’ve done more events too. Both of them needed to get out there a bit more.

            The biggest issue I’d have with his post-convention campaigning is that he campaigned mostly on the platform when Clinton really needed help on the trust issue. A common refrain from former Sanders people was that they liked the platform but they thought she wasn’t trustworthy and was just pandering. She needed more help with that than just telling people about the college tuition plan.

            • Scott Lemieux says:

              I have a piece coming out later this week that addresses this, but I really it’s time to stop assuming that surrogate appearances appreciably move the needle anyway. I mean, she had Obama stumping hard for her, and apparently this wasn’t worth much of anything. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people argue that Al Gore would have been an absolute stone mortal lock to win had he used Clinton more, but the next person to come up with any actual evidence for that will be the first. Bernie was about as responsible for this outcome as Lena Dunham.

              • BartletForGallifrey says:

                Bernie was about as responsible for this outcome as Lena Dunham.

                Yeah, I don’t think that’s right though. I know, both personally and anecdotally, a lot of millennials who had no strong feelings about HRC–maybe a vague impression that she was sketchy–before the primary. After the primary, they hated her. People under ~27 have been primed our whole lives to hate her, and Bernie tapped into that. He also set up a whole chunk of people to think the outcome of the primary was illegitimate. Little Chak’s comment gets at that.

                He should have pulled out after New York and started campaigning vigorously for her. Those last few months were toxic.

                I think it’s both possible and probable that Bernie’s accusations of her being “unqualified” and a Wall Street tool, his insistence on staying in the primary well beyond when he could have won, and his refusal to actually concede swayed a few thousand votes of people who would otherwise have voted for her.

                In a normal election, this wouldn’t matter. This year, a few thousand votes mattered.

                Lena Dunham swayed exactly no votes.

                • UncleEbeneezer says:

                  I know, both personally and anecdotally, a lot of millennials who had no strong feelings about HRC–maybe a vague impression that she was sketchy–before the primary. After the primary, they hated her. People under ~27 have been primed our whole lives to hate her, and Bernie tapped into that. He also set up a whole chunk of people to think the outcome of the primary was illegitimate.

                  Yup. I know several people who fit that bill. Many of them not even old enough to remember the Clinton years or to understand how real CDS actually is. Some ended up voting for HRC, but they made very little effort to spread the word of the danger of Trump (continuing to post Crooked Hillary and DWS-is-the-devil crap up until election day) and had to make a public showing of just how brave they were for holding-their-noses and voting for the Dem nominee. And they sure as hell never made any public attempt (that I saw) to talk anyone out of the Both-Sides shit that they peddled for well over a year. I’d love to see some numbers on the reasons why people chose not to bother voting, but if “both candidates were corrupt/awful etc.” isn’t one of the biggest answers, I would be very surprised.

                • TopsyJane says:

                  I also recall a television interview where Bernie was asked if the Clintons’ foundation should be shut down and he hemmed and hawed. I remember thinking that if this was his notion of expressing support for Hillary it might be better if he just stayed home.

              • ForkyMcSpoon says:

                Perhaps. If so, it’s less clear what her campaign could’ve done to address the trust issues.

        • witlesschum says:

          I don’t know what he is, but I think he’s giving bad political advice that’s also morally wrong.

  5. aturner339 says:

    I still respect Bernie (a little) but that “elect me I’m a woman” crack… That’s some shameful stuff.

    • Scott Lemieux says:


      Sanders is not making Lilla’s argument. But he does repeat the bullshit that Clinton didn’t make economic appeals.

      • Hercules Mulligan says:

        This is just unfair, I’m sorry, Scott. People in Michigan and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania stayed home, some due to suppression but NOT all. If they had voted, HRC would have won. It’s worth considering why they didn’t vote, and that is not the same thing as ignoring the other reasons Trump won (FBI, media, bullshit electoral college). There is good reporting to indicate that working class voters of all races simply did not find HRC’s economic message compelling. It is not unfair for others on the left, including Sanders, to argue on that point.

        Some people want there to be a tension between fighting for good liberal policies and an economically progressive agenda. This blog does not want that tension. I don’t want that tension. Nowhere does Sanders indicate support for that tension. People who pretend he does are wrong and we should consider why they would falsely make such an accusation.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          that working class voters of all races simply did not find HRC’s economic message compelling

          First of all, that’s not Sanders’s argument — he said that Clinton didn’t engage in economic appeals but was running solely on being the first woman president, which is bullshit. Clinton ran on a very progressive economic agenda, and this was central to her speeches. The idea that this would have worked if only the message was more left-wing isn’t plausible, but that’s not even what Sanders was saying.

          • Hercules Mulligan says:

            He doesn’t say that, because he’s referring to the questioner, not to HRC.

            Her agenda was excellent. It was not central to the campaign enough. She certainly did a lot more than I feared she would, but you yourself admit that her ads focused on Trump’s character flaws rather than economics. It is criminal negligence to run ads in Michigan emphasizing Trump’s nuclear trigger finger and NOT run ads about his opposition to the auto bailout. All of that can be true without absolving outside causes of blame.

            • Nick056 says:

              Her agenda was excellent. It was not central to the campaign enough. She certainly did a lot more than I feared she would, but you yourself admit that her ads focused on Trump’s character flaws rather than economics. It is criminal negligence to run ads in Michigan emphasizing Trump’s nuclear trigger finger and NOT run ads about his opposition to the auto bailout. All of that can be true without absolving outside causes of blame.

              This is correct. Scott is right that her platform was fairly progressive on economic issues and that HRC talked about her economic policy a lot in her speeches. But everyone knew that her economic agenda was not as left wing as Sanders’ was. In the primary, she was blunt about describing Sanders’ agenda as impractical and all but accused him of lying to the kids. It’s very hard to come out of a primary where you’re clearly closer to the center on big economic issues like education, healthcare, and wages and then try to sell folks on your audacious economic agenda. It comes off as selling tailor-made technocratic policies that shift with the prevailing winds. Furthermore the poetry of her campaign was simply not in her speeches about the economy. The poetry was about moments like her giving the Khan family an opportunity to speak, and the images of her wearing suffragette white, and her repeated calls for people to acknowledge Trump’s bigotry and that of his supporters.

              You don’t run a class-based campaign by talking about your economic policies. You run a class-based campaign by defining yourself as a person speaking for the working classes. Clinton didn’t do that.

        • BartletForGallifrey says:

          It’s worth considering why they didn’t vote

          How many of them didn’t vote because they’d been told “both sides are the same”? How many of them didn’t vote because they thought the Democratic primary was rigged? How many of them wrote in Bernie Sanders (enough to flip at least one state, is the answer)?

          • Hercules Mulligan says:

            Are you insane? Bernie Sanders elected Trump? People in poverty who didn’t vote are entitled left purists? Screw you, buddy.

            • BartletForGallifrey says:

              100,000 votes in three states. If his rhetoric in and after the neverending primary got even a few thousand voters to stay home or vote 3p (including write-ins for him), he damn well deserves a portion of the blame.

              This is not a fringe view, by the way. You’d be surprised how many people are livid with him. We just mostly learned to shut up about it after the way we were treated in the primary for merely preferring HRC.

              Own your shit.

            • Origami Isopod says:

              People in poverty who didn’t vote

              BfG did not mention people who didn’t vote because their poverty hindered their getting to the polls. She mentioned people who didn’t vote because of their beliefs about “the system.” It is absolutely fair to criticize those people regardless of income level.

              • Hercules Mulligan says:

                She was responding to my comment about people who didn’t vote, and it was she who ascribed motives to the people I had described. So no, her argument remains idiotic, offensive, and of course, incorrect.

            • Little Chak says:

              The median household income of Sanders supporters was roughly equal to that of Clinton supporters.

              And yes, the fact that Bernie spent a month railing against Clinton being “unqualified to be President” because of his fevered imagining of her as a tool of Wall Street, as a response to her saying that she felt he “needed to do his homework” (*not* the same as going on rant after rant about how he was completely unqualified to be President) when asked whether she felt he was qualified, and the fact that he employed a scorched-Earth “To the Convention or bust!” #NeverClinton strategy in the lead-up to the Convention, ranting about the unfairness of the process, undercut his ability to bring his supporters back into the fold.

              The fact that he is still clinging to the “elect me I’m a woman” canard (which he also used to salt the Earth of the Democratic electorate during the primary) also says something.

              • Hercules Mulligan says:

                He. Wasn’t. Talking. About. HRC. He was using the example of a questioner who wanted to run for office.

                And here’s a fun little riddle for those arguing Sanders elected Trump. If he poisoned HRC, then why did his supporters back her overwhelmingly when she was doing best with everyone (post-DNC, post-first debate), and back her less when she was at her lowest (September, post-Comey letter)?

                “People who would have voted HRC were depressed into staying home by the FBI and media” and “evil leftists abandoned Hillary because Bernie criticized her, a thing no primary candidate has ever done” are contradictory arguments. Don’t be a dick.

        • ColBatGuano says:

          I’m still waiting for some evidence that anyone based their vote on economic issues.

    • petesh says:

      Whoa. That was in response to a WOMAN in the audience who wanted to run for office, and wanted advice. NOT HRC.

      I broke with Sanders very early because of his cluelessness on what are now being called identity issues (racism and sexism were the ones that came up first to me), but that particular remark is a fish out of water.

      • Origami Isopod says:

        Yeah, I agree.

        Disclaimer: Caulkthewagon, to whom Hercules links, is a friend of a friend. I don’t agree with her on every issue but I trust her not to be lying.

      • TopsyJane says:

        I waited till I could see the remark in full context and it is very plainly directed at HRC and he views the election result as his own vindication. There is no question about it.

  6. SIS1 says:

    What annoys me most about these people is that they seem blind to the simple reality that CLASS IS AN IDENTITY! The whole question of what Identity should have primacy for people, be it Class, Race, National classification, Religion (and then Sect), biological sex, Gender, Linguistic group, etc. is one of the most well worn and discussed one in all the philosophizing about politics.

    It is fundamentally dishonest to act as if the question should be considered settled, as these people do.

  7. rewenzo says:

    Whenever I read one of these “the Democrats lost because they couldn’t appeal to voters” I suppress the urge to yell:


  8. Vance Maverick says:

    I do have a very dim memory of a politician who is not mentioned in Obama’s piece.

    I’m afraid you let slip a hint as to the identity of this politician.

    [just piling on after CrunchyFrog above]

  9. Brien Jackson says:

    And to people who will try to defend Sanders’ perspective here as not bigoted, let me remind you he was happy to have Tulsi Gabbard, an anti-Muslim bigot who is meeting with Trump about a possible cabinet appointment today, as a high level surrogate.

    • Just_Dropping_By says:

      That would be Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, first American Samoan member of Congress, first Hindu member of Congress, and Democratic member of the House of Representatives, correct?

      • tonycpsu says:

        The same. This may shock Bernie Sanders, but it’s entirely consistent to believe that race, gender, and other “identity politics” attributes are important, but to also believe that someone who checks so many demographic boxes can be a complete shitstain. Since Trump’s guaranteed to pick someone awful, I hope she gets the gig so that someone more representative of Hawaii can have her seat.

        • Dilan Esper says:

          I like Tulsi Gabbard and hope she runs for President and wins.

          And being critical of religious beliefs (including parts of Islam that lead to terrorism and the subjugation of women) is not the same as anti-religious bigotry.

          • Brien Jackson says:

            Of course you do.

            • Rob in CT says:

              I’ve never looked into Gabbard at all. So I decided to run a search on “Tulsi Gabbard Islam” and got this:


              I’m not sure why exactly she has been parroting the GOP line on the magical power of the term “radical Islam,” but she has.

              This does not necessarily make her an anti-Muslim bigot, but it’s not a great look.

              And now she’s apparently under consideration for a job in the Trump Administration. Which is planning on some kind of Muslim registry.

              • Dilan Esper says:

                I don’t believe in the magical power of the phrase radical Islam, but I do believe in its accuracy. ISIL and other terrorist groups are distinctly Islamic. So is the radical ideology exported all over by our friends the Saudis, and espoused by the terrorists they funded who attacked America.

                Radical Islam is a problem. And it doesn’t bother me that politicians want to name it (even though I don’t think that will solve it either).

                And it’s actually a subset of a bigger problem, which is religious groups that teach the oppression of women (and which goes way beyond Islam). Tulsi Gabbard would be a powerful symbol for this country.

                • Little Chak says:

                  If she got an appointment in a Clinton administration, perhaps she could be. However, she is being considered for a position in an administration that has been running on *extreme* religious bigotry. (I also have to say that I’d be much more impressed by the elevation of the likes of someone like Farah Pandit.)

                  Trump suggested that thousands of Muslims were cheering across the river in Jersey as the towers fell, and he answered a Muslim woman’s concern about Islamophobia in the second Presidential debate by saying that it is okay to hold all Muslims responsible for acts of terrorism, because they should report their fellow Muslims who they suspect might be radical. He has proposed a ban on all Muslim immigration to the United States, and a national registry of Muslims. His surrogates have expanded on the legality and precedence for such a registry. He is appointing other people with extremely bigoted views about Muslims into his cabinet. Powerful symbol for women? By working for a man who views women as his personal playthings?

                  So, then. Terrorism. I guess we’re just going to die on the No True Scotsman hill? It’s completely illegitimate for Muslims to feel like terrorists aren’t true Muslims, and to explain why they feel they aren’t following Islam? Same for Christians who do the same for Christian terrorists?

                  I’m sure you make just a big of a deal about Trump voters needing to own the behavior of the worst of his supporters. That is, if we’re ever going to solve the problem of racism and xenophobia in red-state America and amongst the WWC, we have to be able to speak its name…

                  I say this as someone who would agree with the statement that rules (de facto or de jure) enforcing unequally modest codes of dress upon women are inherently sexist, whether in an Islamic culture, a Christian culture, a Jewish culture, or a Hindu culture; and thus, a problem in need of fixing.

                  But I must ask: Does it really make the problem harder to solve to have a President who says something like, “I know they believe they are following Islam. But nearly all Muslims I know, and the majority of Muslims throughout the West, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, feel that they have perverted it to heinous and evil ends”?

                  Does it really make the problem easier to solve by saying, in effect, that the problem really is with Islam itself? That the terrorists are not mistaken in their interpretations?

                  Surely, you’re also aware that radical Wahhabists and Salafists turned against the Kingdom after the Gulf War? Like Osama bin Laden, who thenceforth considered the king an enemy, rather than an emir, of Islam? Surely, you also know that in the years after 9/11, as the al Saud dynasty sought to assert control, there was a rash of terrorist attacks against non-Muslim foreigners, and in the wake of those attacks, the government pushed back against the Wahhabi establishment’s dominance of religion and society? Including dialogues with Sufis, Shiites, liberals, and women? That King Abdullah took on the clerical establishment in 2009 by decreeing that only officially approved religious scholars could issue fatwas? And that in 2016 the Kingdom stripped its religious police of many of its powers of enforcement? (All easily accessible by going to the Wiki on Wahhabism.)

                  Absolutely, things are still abysmal for women in Saudi. And the Kingdom does have an accountability problem — scapegoating the Muslim Brotherhood to avoid fighting directly with Wahhabist leadership being one example.

                  But what is the way forward? I submit that I have never heard a coherent argument for why labeling terrorism as consistent with Islam, rather than anathema to it, would somehow empower the voices of reform, rather than cripple them.

                • Dilan Esper says:


                  There is no way forward. The Saudi government is a bunch of misogynist hyporcrite playboys who can never credibly reform (and who still fund terrorists and radical schools despite your whitewashing- really, capitalizing “Kingdom” to describe those butchers?). Their opponents are worse.

                  We need to get out of the region and sever our dependence on Middle East oil, and treat the Saudis and others of their ilk as international criminals and pariahs, a status they have surely earned. And hope that globalism and the Internet eventually exposes enough people out there to critical thinking about religion and liberal values.

                • BartletForGallifrey says:

                  We need to get out of the region and sever our dependence on Middle East oil, and treat the Saudis and others of their ilk as international criminals and pariahs

                  K how?

          • kped says:

            Not a chance she wins a primary when she is immediately painted as a Trump cabinet member/lapdog. This is actually the worst way to “win” as a Democrat.

        • fledermaus says:

          “someone who checks so many demographic boxes can be a complete shitstain.” Or maybe you need to check your privilege, you have heard about this whole Muslim insurgency thing in SE Asia, right? Can you understand why a Hindu might be concerned about opression of their co-religonists?

          But I guess this sort of privilege-checking only goes one way.

      • djw says:

        Yes. She’s all those things and an anti-Muslim bigot (completely unsurprising given her BJP sympathies). I’m not sure what you think this comment is accomplishing, as I can’t imagine any of our readers are so simple-minded as to think those categories can’t overlap.

      • delazeur says:

        That would be Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, first American Samoan member of Congress, first Hindu member of Congress, and Democratic member of the House of Representatives, correct?

        That a Hindu might be an anti-Muslim bigot is not particularly surprising.

      • AMK says:

        American Samoa sends its own people to Congress, on account of it being Anerican Samoa.

  10. LeeEsq says:

    There are always trade offs and advantages or disadvantages to everything. The advantage of Identity Politics liberalism is that it allows marginalized groups to express their grievances and press for change in the face of a apathetic or hostile majority. The disadvantage is that it can make working on big universal issues like climate change or social welfare more difficult because the electorate could find itself divided into many different groups focused solely on their own good. One way that Identity Politics liberalism does this is to get the majority group to perceive its identity actively rather than passively. As Americans of color or non-Protestant Americans began more actively fighting for their space in the body politic for just cause, a side effect was that many White or Protestant Americans developed a more active rather than passive sense of their identity and began pushing for policies to preserve the idea that the United States was a White Protestant nation. Maybe this was unavoidable but it is a disadvantage to Identity Politics liberalism. You see similar dynamics in other places like Northern Ireland or India.

    • aturner339 says:

      I’m black so grain of salt but I never bought for one millisecond that white people protect their perceived racial interests passively.

      Every single advance has always been met with serious pushback. I don’t think white peope are responding to “identity politics” (as if it’s a new thing rather than a description of most of US politics)
      I think they are responding to the fact that a complete stranglehold on all levers of power may not be permanent.

      They’ve always played the game it’s just now occurred to them that they might not always be guaranteed total victory.

      • LeeEsq says:

        The active-passive dynamic for the majority obviously depends a lot on the overall context. When the majority group perceives itself to be under stress from social change like in the present or in the early 20th century than your going to get a more activist identity politics from the majority. When the majority group does not see itself under stress, say Northern or Mid-Western whites from the 1930s until the 1960s than their group identity is more dynamic. Obviously some parts of the United States always had an active rather than passive White identity.

        • aturner339 says:

          I think that’s less to do with identity politics and more to do with substantive change (or as we liberals like to call it, progress) what we are saying is that many white peope see the advancement of non whites as contrary to their interests and will react if it occurs.

      • BartletForGallifrey says:

        I’m black so grain of salt

        After this election, I’m of the opinion that the franchise should be extended to black women and no one else. They’re apparently the one ones who, as a group, have their heads on straight.

    • SIS1 says:

      Sorry, but all politics is about Identity. Talking about Class is identity politics. Talking about all of us as “Americans” is also identity politics.

      To me this framing suffers from the same problems that come up “political correctness” – its adopting a frame in which one single opinion or identity is assumes to be the correct one a priori, ignoring everything else.

      • LeeEsq says:

        I agree that class politics is identity politics.

        • Slothrop2 says:

          How right-wing of you, good sir.

          Class is an objective category. Put another way, class consciousness is the antidote to mere identity politics, as in, “the sign is the site of class conflict.”

          I also think it’s hilarious that anyone would claim with a straight face that HRC tried to raise class consciousness. I suspect that as he grows older, Prof. Lemieux’s politics will become increasingly right-wing. Why wait?

          • sibusisodan says:

            Class is an objective category

            That’s one hell of a supposition.

          • BartletForGallifrey says:

            Class is an objective category.


            Class is one of, if not the, most subjective categories.

            • gkclarkson says:

              I think they did a survey and found that essentially every single American household making between 25K to 250K considered themselves to be “Middle Class,” which rendered the whole exercise meaningless.

              • Slothrop2 says:

                Like I said, as Voloshinov said, the sign is the site of class conflict means that the contest over what it means to be white, gay, whatever, is controlled by those persons who have the most socio-political power. That people would like to think otherwise inasmuch as powerless people claim a right of identity, only shows how calamitous the left has been in its abandonment of politics of class. Having no class solidarity, the people who need that solidarity the most retreat into the pointlessness of identity politics whose identities are named by the capitalist class.

                As Walter Benn Michaels says, inequality is a class problem, not an identity problem. This is why class is “objective” as a category.

                By the way, Paul Campos wrote a blog entry that made everybody’s head explode in which he much more artfully made basically the same argument I make here, in the context of identity politics on US campuses. But, it seems in his bit of Bernie-bashing last week, Campos reversed direction.

                • Snuff curry says:

                  Having no class solidarity, the people who need that solidarity the most retreat into the pointlessness of identity politics whose identities are named by the capitalist class.

                  ‘Racism is the figment of, among others, black people’s imaginations and anti-racism a pointless exercise in distraction created by your masters.’ Off ye merrily do fuck.

          • LeeEsq says:

            Besides what other people said I have two words for you, genteel poverty. Outside the United States, there wasn’t a strict correlation between income and class. You could be upper class but still very financially strapped if you came from the right family and had the right upbringing. In the United States and other Anglo-derived countries, there is a much closer link between income and class. The concept of genteel poverty never applied. To be upper class you needed to be wealthy.

          • SIS1 says:

            “Class is an objective category.”


            Is a college educated individual working as a research assistant for say, $30K a year part of the working class? Yes/No.

            Do tell, what does that objective definition say about this?

            • Slothrop2 says:

              Here you go. Median income flat line. Nearly 50% of national income is earned by 8% of the population.

              • ColBatGuano says:

                Do you really think those statistics back up your argument that “class is an objective category”? Because if so, you should have yourself checked for a head injury.

            • djw says:

              Some people read Marx and discover a powerful set of analytic tools for understanding the world, in ways that go well beyond what the inventor of those tools imagined they were for.

              Other people, like Slothrop, read Marx, and find dogma, to be applied lazily, mechanically and uncritically everywhere and always the same way.

              • brad says:

                *mutters to self about bifurcatory dialectics being overly simplistic and of limited use, not to mention fundamentally a white European male’s tool in countless ways both historically and structurally*
                Hegel was a hack.

              • Slothrop2 says:

                Enlighten me. The median family income is around 55K. That includes all kinds of gays, whites, Hispanics, etc., and even lizard Queens like yourself, I imagine. This is the universal category out of which we can safely say everyone has been screwed from realization of these productivity gains for about 30 years.

                Thanks a lot, Democrats.

                • UserGoogol says:

                  “Median” is not a class. Class is the way we categorize people, inequality is a brute mathematical fact separate from any particular categorization. Similarly, there’s a pretty clear relationship between a person’s complexion and how cops treat them, even if the precise categorization into black and white is more arbitrary. In both cases, the ideas of class and race pretty thoroughly influence the injustices going on in a way that just making general statistical summaries misses the point.

                • Origami Isopod says:

                  all kinds of gays

                  This is the kind of phrase I wasn’t sure I wanted to call attention to, only because in a Slothrop comment it’s like pointing to a particularly nasty turd in a stream of sewage.

                  Then I was like, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          • veleda_k says:

            Class is an objective category

            This is so stupid and so in complete violation of all history and reality that I don’t even know what to do with it.

          • Snuff curry says:

            class consciousness is the antidote to mere identity politics

            Assimilation to a sterile, WASP-y ideal was also touted as the solution to the pesky problem of multiculturalism, but it’s not nearly as sexy when you put it that way, is it.

            • Slothrop2 says:

              It appears that your version of the left is the politics of the personal. That’s turned out to be a real big problem.

              • witlesschum says:

                And it appears you like to mouth meaningless slogans.

                It’d be nice if everyone making less than $55,001 per year thought of themselves in class terms, but they don’t currently and throughout American history mainly they haven’t. It’s possible that it’ll never happen because too many white people will always want to see themselves as white first and won’t be comfortable in coalition with black and brown people. White supremacy is a hell of drug.

                Getting people to see things more in the terms I see things would be a fine thing to do, but so far whining about how other people are doing lefting wrong hasn’t worked.

                • Slothrop2 says:

                  “Whining”? HRC tried to patch together the identity politics of everyone from Qatari gazillionaires to BLM. Disaster. If what you say is true, then there really is no hope for the left in this country.

                  I will admit this makes me want to whine. I do pretty well teaching with a Medicaid buy-in. Medicaid block granting will probably force me back into penury. I have a family. Without the buy-in, I really hurt my family. I think for most of you, the result of the election doesn’t matter a whole lot. I really wanted the Democrats to win – I knew that HRC would lose and force a lot of long-term disabled like myself into these horrible situations. It’s going to be really bad for quite a few people. Paul Ryan will actually kill people.

                • BartletForGallifrey says:

                  HRC tried to patch together the identity politics of everyone from Qatari gazillionaires to BLM.

                  I don’t believe Qatari gazillionaires get to vote in American elections these days.

                  I really wanted the Democrats to win

                  Did you even vote for her?

                • so-in-so says:

                  I really wanted the Democrats to win – I knew that HRC would lose and force a lot of long-term disabled like myself into these horrible situations.

                  And yet, you spent the entire time from the convention on, when quite clearly HRC was the ONLY candidate who could beat Trump, complaining about her nomination. So much that other commenters here have serious doubts that you even voted for her, or maybe even where a Trump supporting concern troll.

              • Origami Isopod says:

                the politics of the personal.

                When it happens to cishet white men, it’s a political issue.

                When it happens to everyone else, it’s a “personal,” or social, issue.

                Got it.

                • BartletForGallifrey says:

                  So glad you understand!

                • Snuff curry says:

                  “Come and get it” and all these don’t-tread-on-me LARPers, preppers, gun nuts, and would-be militia types aren’t personalizing this at all, or casting themselves as heroes in their little comic book fantasies. No sirree.

      • Steve LaBonne says:

        White opinion and identity. Still as always, both the default setting and all that matters to most white people sadly including “progressives”.

    • McAllen says:

      The advantage of Identity Politics liberalism is that it allows marginalized groups to express their grievances and press for change in the face of a apathetic or hostile majority. The disadvantage is that it can make working on big universal issues like climate change or social welfare more difficult because the electorate could find itself divided into many different groups focused solely on their own good.

      But it’s not Identity Politics that divided us into those groups. The division of race was created by white people, not people of color. The division of sexuality was created by cishet people, not LGBT people.

      • LeeEsq says:

        People seem to have been dividing ourselves into groups for as long as they were humans. Before you had modern ideas about race, you had older divisions based on kith, clan, tribe, nation, religion, and class.

        • delazeur says:

          You are papering over the fact that the divisions are not created equal, and the dominant group is the one that draws the lines. People of color were not consulted about the one-drop rule, and LGBTQ people were not invited to comment on drafts of the DSM.

        • brewmn says:

          How is greater access to health care an “identity” issue? Both Obama and Clinton gave shout outs to women, LGBTs and minorities, effectively saying “welcome to full citizenhood in these United States.” The policies they have proposed are a dfifferent matter, however.

          The argument that some here are making, that those shout outs were an indication that Clinton was somehow elevating those minority groups’ concerns over those of the working class, when their policies were aimed squarely at those working class concerns, is the rankest idiocy.

      • Junipermo says:

        Thank you for saying this.

        I would also add that people of color and others favor all kinds of policies that benefit everyone, regardless of identity. An increase in minimum wage wouldn’t just apply to Latinas. Affordable college tuition wouldn’t have applied only to Native Americans or to members of the LGBT community. The expansion of Social Security would not exclude blue collar white men in the Rust Belt. So if there’s a problem of certain groups focusing only on their own good, it doesn’t lie with the marginalized.

        • aturner339 says:

          The difficulty is that people don’t necessarily perceive polices that “benefit everyone” in that way.

          First because all economic policy really does have loser and winners. There are small business owners who are steadfast key opposed to minimum wage or paid parental leave.

          Second because even when the winners win they can experience a sense of loss. Freer trade has enriched much of the Midwest in real terms. They may not see it that way.

          There is no easy answer here.

          • Junipermo says:

            But the issue here is whether the Dems should downplay issues that affect parts of their coalition that aren’t straight, white, Christian and male in favor of economic or class based policies in an attempt to get more white voters back in the fold. Of course I wouldn’t be surprised if small business owners opposed a minimum wage increase. But that’s a separate argument from the topic at hand.

            My point is that marginalized groups in the Democratic coalition already support things that would benefit the voters that Sanders and Lilla think Democrats ought to chase. What keeps those voters from being on board with Dems is their own practice of identity politics, which seems to require that everyone but straight, white Christian men be at best, tolerated, and at worst, thrown under the bus. Clearly it isn’t economic policy that drives working class whites to vote for a party that doesn’t even think we ought to have a minimum wage, wants to cut taxes on the rich, privatize Social Security, institute right to work laws nationwide, and on and on.

    • alex284 says:

      As Americans of color or non-Protestant Americans began more actively fighting for their space in the body politic for just cause, a side effect was that many White or Protestant Americans developed a more active rather than passive sense of their identity and began pushing for policies to preserve the idea that the United States was a White Protestant nation.

      Oh, yeah, i’m sure that the people who wanted the south to secede from the union were totally just passively worried about white people’s interests, and became racist when there was push-back against slavery (which had nothing to do with white supremacy and was just sort of an accident that white people were literally owning black people).

      So racism is all black people’s fault. Q.E. fuckin’ D.

  11. Shakezula says:

    Affirmative action for women and minorities at America’s newspapers and broadcasters has been an extraordinary social achievement

    HA ha ha ha ha ha!!

  12. BGinCHI says:

    Calling political action and ideas “identity politics” is the surest sign you’re infected with White Privilege.

    There’s a cure for it. It’s called Read Some Fucking History.

  13. Incontinentia Buttocks says:

    This is anything but an argument against “identity politics,” but it is worth remembering that the diversity frame for affirmative action was forced on us by Bakke. Affirmative action as reparations and/or a counterweight against contemporary racism, sexism, etc is a much more empowering way to think about it, even if, legally, it cannot be the grounding for affirmative action in universities.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Right. We needn’t defend affirmative action in the way it has to be defended in federal court.

      • Dilan Esper says:

        The problem with defending affirmative action on that ground is that its recipients include a lot of people who really aren’t the victims of the legacy of slavery and other forms of racial discrimination.

        You can’t have a segregated primary education system that leaves a lot of minorities behind in failing schools in economically deprived places, and then declare that you are giving reparations by letting some kids who grew up in middle class minority families go to Harvard.

        Diversity is the only rationale that really works, unless colleges would be willing to completely change their programs and target them towards very poor kids.

        • aturner339 says:

          My understanding of affirmative action was that it was never intended as redress for those harmed by slavery or patriarchy. Instead it is a presentist system to try and mitigate harm from ongoing discrimination.

          • postmodulator says:

            MLK’s advocacy of affirmative action was rooted precisely in the redress argument, as I understand it.

            • aturner339 says:

              I am aware of King’s support for tangible redress in terms of paying on that famous “bounced check” but interpreted that more as support for actual reparations rather than a leg up in college admissions.

              King more than hinted that he meant money.

          • Scott Lemieux says:

            Centering debates around affirmative action around Harvard is exactly the kind of bullshit Lilla pulls.

            • Dilan Esper says:

              Even at the University of California, they aren’t letting a lot of kids from the projects in, Scott.

              • PJ says:

                Um, a reminder that UC does not actually use affirmative action. It was removed by a ballot prop.

                It should be noted that focusing on Pell grants has ameliorated the issue of diversity somewhat but that the diversity of the flagship campuses, LA and Berkeley, are still very very low.

                • Jackov says:

                  Only if one limits diversity to mean the percentage of African-American undergraduates and even then UCLA is not very, very low given the state’s demographics.

                  At Berkeley, 24.3% of undergrads are white
                  and 34% receive Pell Grants

                  At UCLA, 26.3% of undergrads are white
                  and 38% receive Pell Grants.

                  Those are the lowest percentages of white undergrads and highest percentage of Pell Grant students at any national university.
                  and likely any state flagship. Of course Asian-Americans only count toward diversity when it is convenient.

                • PJ says:

                  Look, I don’t really want to get into a long discussion in light of the fact that people on this blog are in mourning right now, but here.

                  CA invested a lot of time and resources into addressing the falling diversity rates immediately after Prop 209 passed. It worked! And undeniably all unis should be doing this anyway. But CA is a special case precisely because its demographic makeup 1) predisposes it to these comparatively high diversity rates anyway (as the Leondhardt article admits) but also that 2) we often vote to fund our schools doing this stuff. Affirmative Action as national policy kind of addresses a lot of the class issues by proxy because of how race and class are intertwined. It’s not exactly “fair”, but as said above the real point of affirmative action should be reparations and/or protection from unequal amounts of discrimination. Focusing on Harvard does tend to be unhelpful here as really only elite (regardless of color) get there.

                  These public universities, OTOH, are different in their stated mission.

                  The state of Michigan also no longer uses affirmative action, but the admin has done nothing the address the diversity issue there and from personal experience it has actually produced some real tensions, especially since majority-AA Detroit is less than an hour away and the AA student pop. at Ann Arbor campus is less than 10%.

                  W/r/t the undergrad AA pop relative to actual state AA pop: I was trying to make a different point by mentioning LA and Berkeley, which I should clarify.

                  First, I should say those rates mask a lot. For one thing, the UC campuses, particularly during the recession, were criticized for taking more international students rather than in-state students. AFAICT, a lot of this data doesn’t necessarily disaggregate in-state vs international (eg I bet if you look at East Asian vs all other Asian pops, another story will pop up). So the in-state population was not strictly the priority of the UCs anyway until after they were directly criticized.

                  My point in singling out LA and Berkeley is that they very much have a national profile. They are what people call status-making institutions. The cultural capital you have in these places as a student is unquantifiable, but there’s a real impact when, as a disadvantaged student, you are around a lot of merit award winners and graduates from highly rated prep schools and public schools.

                  The Philips Exeter to Harvard to Goldman Sachs is a real pipeline. So seems to be the diverse public school – Berkeley/LA – professional /academic/political class one.

                  When you don’t have a lot of Black and Latino students in this pipeline, it makes a real impact at the national level.

                  But I admit this point is off the topic of class issues per se, but people really need to acknowledge the fact that even with affirmative action our most powerful institutions are still super white. In this context, Benn Michael’s position seems disingenuous.

                • Jackov says:

                  So you singled out Berkeley and UCLA to make your point that elite institutions in the US are super white. Even though those two campuses have the least white undergraduate student bodies of all national universities.

                  But it was the data that was masking a lot.

                • PJ says:

                  Even though those two campuses have the least white undergraduate student bodies of all national universities.

                  Your studious avoidance of my argument (as well as the linked article talking about falling rates of diversity immediately after the repeal of affirmative Action) is duly noted.

                • Jackov says:

                  the diversity of the flagship campuses, LA and Berkeley, are still very very low

                  That was your argument. I did not avoid it, I demolished your claim with data. You were in serious error as Berkeley and UCLA are the two most racially and economically diverse national universities in the country.

                  When confronted with facts, you could have easily restated. Instead you decided to disparage the data, spend paragraphs on uncontested history and then end by stating you singled out UCLA and Cal because they are good examples of the pipeline that perpetuates white privilege. You managed to go from wrong to farcical.

                  Next time you want to note –
                  The percentage and total number of African-American undergraduates at UC Berkeley is low and has not recovered to pre-209 levels – I suggest the direct approach.

                • PJ says:

                  When confronted with facts, you could have easily restated.

                  Well, you could have easily read the article in hand which actually contained “the facts”. Life’s hard isn’t it?

                  Again: your studious avoidance of my argumen is duly noted.

            • manual says:

              “research from strong supporters of affirmative action—Derek Bok and William Bowen—found
              that 86 percent of African Americans at selective colleges were either middle or upper class.23 At Ivy League institutions, 41 percent of black freshmen in one study were immigrants, a group that is more socioeconomically advantaged than non-immigrant blacks.”


              Weird its almost as it Scott is not interested in the academic literature on the topic. Id recommend the book Place not Race by Sheryl Cashin.

              • delazeur says:

                As that study notes, the percentage of low-income students of color is still higher than the percentage of low-income white students, even if the students of color are disproportionately middle/high income.

              • PJ says:

                What’s kind of hilarious is that this whole issue of the academy being out-and-out white is precisely the reason why the academic/activist left has such little imagination when it comes to the political and economic lives of marginalized voters, which includes the white ones.

                But yah, all the Black people who are coming into the institutions are all likely to be neoliberal hacks who want to preserve their class privilege so WHO REALLY CARES.

                All the poor white folk who make it into the academy however will surely lead us to the socialist utopia.

                • Dilan Esper says:

                  I never argued any of that. The diversity rationale accepts that it will help minority populations to have more minorities enrolled. There are other arguments against diversity, but that’s one of its benefits.

                  My point was it is not COMPENSATORY. To compensate, you have to let in a very different minority population than the one that gets in now.

                • Origami Isopod says:

                  But yah, all the Black people who are coming into the institutions are all likely to be neoliberal hacks who want to preserve their class privilege so WHO REALLY CARES.

                  Black people are elites, especially the urban ones! The Jackoff Bin kidz say it’s so, so it must be true!

                • BartletForGallifrey says:

                  Jackoff Bin

                  I’m dead.

                  Are you on twitter, OI?

                • Origami Isopod says:

                  Heh, thanks, but I try to keep my profile low. I read other people’s Twitters from time to time but I have no interest in diving in there.

                • BartletForGallifrey says:

                  Well, you can at least continue to bring me great joy here, where I lurk quite devotedly.

      • LeeEsq says:

        Affirmative action might have started as a reparations and/or counterweight to contemporary racism or sexism but the only way it was going to survive was as diversity program. Otherwise, the Supreme Court was most likely to hold that it doesn’t past strict scrutiny. Another problem with the reparations framework was that it could lead to some very tricky debates on whether the children of African immigrants or other non-African American people of color would benefit. The diversity frame work for affirmative action allows it benefit more people and be politically stronger.

        • aturner339 says:

          Kennedy and LBJ studiously avoided any suggestion that affirmative action was ever about redress.

          • LeeEsq says:

            Just because we think that reparations would be a good justification for affirmative action doesn’t mean that it can past constitutional muster. The Supreme Court has been clear that race is suspect category and is subject to strict scrutiny even if the law is supposed to remedy for past discrimination against racial minorities rather than harm them.

            • Dilan Esper says:

              Honestly, I could design an affirmative action program that was plausibily about redress.

              The problem for colleges is it would let in a lot of students they don’t want and whose families will never donate.

              • LeeEsq says:

                Can it survive strict scrutiny though? An affirmative action program based on redress will help African-Americans use ancestors were slaves before the 13th Amendment was ratified but do nothing for other Americans of color. That doesn’t seem to be able to survive strict scrutiny.

                • Dilan Esper says:

                  It depends who the judge is. A conservative judge would insist on a very narrow class of victims (and proof of intentional discrimination by the college). A liberal judge would go broader.

  14. Crusty says:

    The funny/sad/whatever thing is that Obama seemed to make a conscious effort to not be the black president or president of the blacks. And some, like Cornell west and tavis smiley raked him over the coals for it.

    • BartletForGallifrey says:

      I’ve seen a number of people saying that what hurt HRC was how openly and explicitly she talked about race, acknowledged (by name!) systemic racism, courted black voters in a way that Obama couldn’t do.

      The white people who voted for him in 2008 and 2012 and voted GOP this year didn’t see much of a difference between Obama and McCain/Romney on race, whereas HRC was unapologetically supportive of the blacks.

      (And, of course, the other guy was offering full-on white supremacy.)

      • ColBatGuano says:

        This gets at one of the oddest things I have seen around since the election. The idea that since they voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 that they couldn’t possibly be racist. Okay.

      • PJ says:

        HRC was how openly and explicitly she talked about race, acknowledged (by name!) systemic racism, courted black voters in a way that Obama couldn’t do.

        I was genuinely shocked by the fact that she used the concert w/ Jay-Z to highlight this, as well as acknowledging with Michelle Obama in the room that the flack she got as first lady did not compare to some of the racist things said about Michelle. Like, these were random small moments (not What I Would Do for Black America speeches) with what looked like primarily white audiences where she could have tacked a different way and no one would have noticed or cared.

        Like, I don’t really care about what’s in her heart, but this stuff was bracing coming from a middle-aged middle-America raised white grandmother who is supposed to be courting white voters and who, yes, has a history of saying stupid, racist shit about Black teenagers. Like, she was never going to be Obama’s equal here in nuance and understanding, but someone was clearly schooling her on something.

      • BartletForGallifrey says:

        “I think this election is significant because whites, for the first time, have behaved like everybody else,” [neo-Nazi Jared] Taylor said. “They have voted for a man in whom they see a reflection of their interests as a group.”

        Like I said.

  15. jim, some guy in iowa says:

    that photo would make a good dartboard

  16. Drexciya says:

    Here’s a fuller transcript of the Sanders quote in question, which is both infuriating and much, much worse than a single one-off quote captures. It would be mistaken to view this as unpredictable for Sanders or unique to Sanders (indeed, this is the exact same line most of the white left takes toward demands for diversity and expressions of satisfaction with certain kinds of diversity), but he’s exhaustively outlined who sees himself and wishes to be a left champion for. It’s the presumptive Trump voters who got ten minutes of exhaustive, question-begging apologia, and no on else.

    • howard says:

      i have a free moment so i want to say, drexciya, how much i respect your relentless calling out of bullshit.

    • Murc says:

      but he’s exhaustively outlined who sees himself and wishes to be a left champion for. It’s the presumptive Trump voters who got ten minutes of exhaustive, question-begging apologia, and no on else.

      This interpretation is dramatically and grotesquely at odds with sanders, you know, his actual legislative and political record.

      • Drexciya says:

        Is it at odds with his recent statements and how he thinks the Democratic party’s focus should be directed in the future? That question is especially salient since he will soon hold a leadership position as Chair of Outreach, and that speech, as well as others like it at the George Washington University, as well as his appearances on CBS and elsewhere, have shown that he thinks “outreach” should be centered on the white working class that he’s embarrassed the Democratic Party doesn’t speak to, and Trump voters clearly represent that working class in his mind and sources of necessary outreach, by his own descriptions.

        I don’t know why “he wants to be a progressive champion to Trump voters” would be rebutted by “well, before Trump was a candidate, he talked about/advocated other things.” He did, indeed, and that’s laudable enough, but that’s not what he’s focusing on now, at the expense of necessary critiques of the rationales behind Trump support and necessary identification of the dynamic they actually represent. He’s not really setting himself up to challenge what’s at stake if he starts with “Trump voters can’t be called racist,” or if his narrative of Trumpism begins with white deindustrialization and not the ethnic violence they affirmatively voted for, and it’s certainly not an inclusive championing if one of his more critical broadsides in that speech is directed to…diversity. And this would be true even if I accepted that your statement was responsive.

        • Murc says:

          have shown that he thinks “outreach” should be centered on the white working class that he’s embarrassed the Democratic Party doesn’t speak to

          Do you have any other potential demographics “gets” in the swing states other than flipping some Trump voters back to the D column?

          Because if you don’t, this would seem, in fact, to be the only viable stance moving forward that isn’t also morally horrible.

          I suppose you could simply take the stance of “Clinton was a historically unpopular candidate, we run someone without her baggage and we get those voters back organically.” You might even be correct.

          He did, indeed, and that’s laudable enough, but that’s not what he’s focusing on now, at the expense of necessary critiques of the rationales behind Trump support and necessary identification of the dynamic they actually represent.

          Sanders doesn’t seem to have mis-identified any of those things, tho. At worst he’s guilty of not entirely grasping modern political dynamics within his own party. He has a pretty accurate view of how Trump got where he got, tho, it seems.

          • witlesschum says:

            In Michigan, if Clinton had gotten Obama’s percentage of the black vote, she wins. Maybe we should think about going after voters who don’t already hate us?

            • Murc says:

              This sounds convincing, but… Clinton got, what, like 88% of the black vote to Obama’s 93%?

              That’s… pretty close. I’m not sure anyone who isn’t Barack Obama can meaningfully push their numbers any higher there. When you max a demographic that high you run, hardcore, into diminishing returns.

              Maybe we should think about going after voters who don’t already hate us?

              Indeed we should, which is why many conversations are focused on trying to get people who voted Democratic in 2008 and 2012, and thus either don’t hate us or don’t hate us enough to not vote for us, to come back. Or on running someone without Clinton’s baggage, which might have the same effect.

              • Dilan Esper says:

                Also, how the hell is a white candidate ever going to get Obama’s percentage of the black vote?

                • postmodulator says:

                  Particularly if running against a crypto-fascist isn’t sufficent?

                • tonycpsu says:

                  A ROT-26 fascist at most. (Google it if you don’t get the joke.)

                • witlesschum says:

                  Maybe the Democratic nomination is closed to white people for a while.

                • BartletForGallifrey says:

                  Maybe the Democratic nomination is closed to white people for a while.

                  Maybe voting should be closed to white people for a while.

                • so-in-so says:

                  Maybe the Democratic nomination is closed to white people for a while.

                  Maybe voting should be closed to white people for a while.

                  At this point, it works for me (and I’m an older white male). If “we” as a group are going to elect Nazis or KKK people, then maybe it’s time to spend a while out of power (as if).

                  It seems the argument that we should nominate white males to win is allowed, but people head for the exits shouting about “identity politics” if someone suggests Barack Obama means we should nominate AA men for the win…

      • Vance Maverick says:

        Not with the text at hand, though. Sanders may well believe that the reasons that make it important to have Latin@/female/AA senators also inform the policies we should be fighting for, inside and outside the Senate. But that’s not what he says. Inclusivity is for representation, in this telling, and policy is about economics and class.

        • Murc says:

          Because of course Sanders has only ever given one speech and has no legislative or activism record.

          Sanders is far from perfect on non-class issues; he’s old school, from a time when that sort of thing was talked of and thought of rather differently. If you want to make the case that he doesn’t and maybe can’t fully understand the underlying issues as they actually are, and so is going to fuck this up sometimes, I’m on board with that case.

          That’s not the case people are making with regard to him, tho. Instead we’re getting bullshit like “he might as well have deployed a bunch of slurs and thrown the finger and women, LGBT+ people, and minorities” and “he’s not interested in being a champion of anyone other than white folks.”

          And that’s transparently bullshit.

          • jim, some guy in iowa says:

            I think people are having a hard time accepting that if the left/Democratic project is going to make gains out here among the deplorables there are going to be *more* pols like Sanders and/or Bill Clinton, who are going to be pretty much on board but at the same time aren’t always going to be talking *our* language

            • Murc says:

              I would dispute that we need more pols like 90s-era Bill Clinton.

              Clinton didn’t just use affinity politics to score with white folks. That’s fairly unobjectionable. He ran on, and implemented, policies whose specific and openly stated goals were to put the boot into black folks. And poor folks.

              I’ve got some pretty high hopes for Ellison. Guy is a genuine rust belt rabble-rouser and 100% solid on race, gender, etc. as far as I know. If he has any screen and stage presence in the big leagues at all he ought to go far.

              • Jonny Scrum-half says:

                The Right is primed to paint Ellison as a Nation of Islam radical who actively supports the Muslim Brotherhood.

                • Murc says:

                  You mean like they do every Democrat?

                • kped says:

                  Yeah, what we cannot ever do it allow the other party, the party of DONALD FUCKING TRUMP to define who is and who is not an acceptable candidate to run.

                  I mean, they said that about Obama, didn’t work. Hillary lost, and a lot of that is with the media and FBI, but she was the candidate the party (re: actual voters) chose to run for them, and she won the majority of the vote in the general.

                  Personally, and I’ve said it elsewhere, I think Corey Booker is the guy to bet on in 2020. Young, charismatic, good progressive record. And yes, black. It matters. I don’t care what problems people have with “identity politics”, it’s a fact of life. Booker is the guy to watch in 2020.

              • DrDick says:

                It was also under Clinton that the Democrats moved away from their advocacy of the working classes (his welfare reforms and NAFTA were also devastating for the white working classes).

                • gkclarkson says:

                  I’d argue that the Democrats moved away from WWC advocacy in the 1990’s because there was essentially nothing short of a massively politically unpalatable redistributionary tax policy (think Scandinavia, with 55-60% top brackets) that would restore the standard of living of the 60s-70s, largely because of broad macroeconomic trends and technological innovation.

                  Thus, the past 20 years has been focused on improving the welfare of who they actually could help legislatively – racial and religious minorities, the poor, the LGBT, etc.

                  But when the WWC see their lives are getting worse and the lives of others are getting better, the natural instinct is to think it’s coming at one’s own expense.

              • Nick056 says:

                … He ran on, and implemented, policies whose specific and openly stated goals were to put the boot into black folks.

                I don’t want to be the irrational THIS IS WHY WE LOST guy, because, hey, the election was consistent with the fundamentals and the loss is a complex one in which Clinton holds a 1.3% lead in the popular vote and climbing. So I’m aware that this is not in fact why we lost. And I’m sure the following will endear me to nobody. But casually talking about race in ways that strike a majority of the electorate as either bizarre, or else secretly confirm their views that Democrats are the real racists, is profoundly unhelpful.

                But. Bill Clinton did not run on policies whose “specific and openly stated goals” were “putting the boot in black folks.” I can’t emphasize that enough. Openly stated by whom? Bill Clinton? Saying that like you’re describing the weather is really astonishing, because the implications include an argument that the country should have elected Hillary Clinton, who has many excellent qualities, but is also, in your view, apparently the wife of a man who reached the office of the presidency on a platform of openly stated vindictive racial oppression.

                It’s one thing to say that Bill Clinton pandered to white voters by comparing Sister Souljah to David Duke, and to note that black representatives and Senators in Congress frequently and bluntly identified the racially disparate problems with Clinton’s social reforms on welfare and crime. It’s quite another to basically say he was David Duke. Some of this election involved a real effort to tie Donald Trump to David Duke. If you’re argument implicitly connects Bill Clinton to David Duke, well, I hope you see the problem in terms of politics.

            • Though the same is true of the candidates of whom certain people might want to say “you can’t just say I’m a Latina vote for me, you have to represent ME!”

              (My comments have been contradictory but in part that’s because I’ve had to type some twice and have lost additional paragraphs.)

            • witlesschum says:

              Turning Michigan blue again doesn’t require Bill Clinton, it requires a slightly larger share of the Obama coalition than Clinton got or a GOP candidate on the ballot less appealing to rural white nationalists of varying degrees of fervency.

              Running the campaign being advocated by Sanders also might depress turnout among minority groups, especially black people and Hispanics, and then the Dems would be truly, truly screwed.

          • Amanda in the South Bay says:

            Sanders would be better off then if he just STFU for a while, if he is indeed merely misinterpreted. Because he sure doesn’t do a good job of reassuring people that’s not what he meant.

            • addicted44 says:

              I suspect, part of Sanders’s problem is that when he communicates, he believes that the people he is communicating with should hold that he is a good person who only means the best for them as a given.

              • petesh says:

                I agree. But then, that’s part of the problem with Greenwald, too. In fact, it’s far too common all over the place. For instance, me, babe (in the immortal words of Van the Man).

                • Origami Isopod says:

                  I’m not sure if it applies to Greenwald anywhere near as well as it does to Sanders. Then again, I think Sanders actually does care about others to a far greater degree than GG, whose motivation seems largely to be “Y U NO RESPECT MAH MORAL AUTHORITAY?!”

                • petesh says:

                  I think we can come to agreement on Greenwald, but that’s because I (PS) assume that you (OI) assume that I assume that you assume that I assume that you are in fact a good person.

                  ETA: And if you’re not, I dont wanna know!

          • Drexciya says:

            In what way is he championing civil rights right now? His pitch is “we won’t go backwards!” but the substance of his argument ignores—in a way that he doesn’t ignore the impact of deindustrialization on the white working class—the ways we’ve “already gone back” and how it’s gotten worse. The VRA is gutted, which had a likely substantial effect on the election, gay marriage is exceedingly likely to be removed, you can still be fired in many states for being openly queer, the wage gap (something he once mentioned pretty regularly in his speeches during the primaries, but isn’t emphasizing as much right now) is both racialized and gendered, there have been almost a thousand documented instances of ethnic violence since Trump’s election, access to reproductive rights has been systematically rolled back in any number of states since 2010, and a Trump/Pence ticket with a Republican congress would make it worse. Like, we’re actually talking about another Muslim registry, defended with Japanese internment as a precedent, and Kris Kobach being brought onto the Trump team.

            These are urgent issues, worthy of both championing and passionate, morally clear articulation, and you can’t be said to be a champion of them while you’re outlining ways someone who appointed a neo-nazi as his chief strategist should be worked with, and when you’re ignoring that this is exactly what those people voted for. You’re not being a champion for them when they barely come up. And it’s instructive, I think, to look at the substantive differences in both detail, passion, and circumstantial honesty between how he’s talking about Trump supporters/WWC, and how he’s talking about, well, everything else after we’ve descended into a pitch of ethnic violence that will soon be escalated by the state. He’s being admirably honest about the economic consequences of deindustrialization, and I hope parts of his rhetoric is further internalized by the rest of the party. Where is that for anything else this election is about?

            Now, perhaps I’m being unfair, perhaps my expectations are too high, and perhaps I’m ignoring recent statements or not giving them proper weight. But I don’t think you can be a champion for Trump voters and people of color right now. I don’t think you can be a champion for racial justice and for narratives that obscure vested interests in racism. And I don’t think his superficial defense of social justice is responsive to its actual challenges, which have intensified in ways that are poorly reflected by his post-election commentary. In this, I’m simply holding him to the standard of Jesse Jackson, who he endorsed, and who managed to have an expansionist and inclusive left agenda while ensuring that few of its central components were left out and while not disrespecting their independent significance (which was the whole point of his patchwork quilt analogy).

          • Snuff curry says:

            Sanders is far from perfect on non-class issues; he’s old school, from a time when that sort of thing was talked of and thought of rather differently.

            ….He’s six years older than HRC. No one forced him into insular, pasty-white Vermont where his oldschoolness lay dormant, untested, and unexamined for several decades. He’s also not remotely near-perfect on class issues.

        • Brien Jackson says:

          It seems pretty obvious that Sanders is subtweeting Hillary and Obama.

    • addicted44 says:

      Are there actual real examples of Dem candidates going “Im a Latina, vote for me”? (Feel free to replace Latinas with any other “identity” of your choosing).

      How are you supposed to propose real solutions when your statement of the problem at hand is as big a straw man as this?

      I don’t want to relitigate the primary. Bernie Sanders has gotten far more power in shaping the Dem party going forward. It worries me that he needs to rely on straw men to bolster his proposed solutions.

      • Brien Jackson says:

        It’s an article of faith amongst some Sanders supporters that gender is the only reason voters supported Clinton.

        • addicted44 says:

          Even if that were the case, it doesn’t imply the opposite. That Hillary (or really, there exists ANY candidate) who campaigned solely on the basis of their identity.

          Frankly, I don’t even need to answer this question. The idea that someone only, or even primarily, campaigns based on their identity is absurd. Simply because if they are campaigning on their identity, then that implies a lot of people who subscribe to that identity reside in that area, which means the candidate is vulnerable to anyone with the same identity who decides to step up and campaign on the basis of “I’m also Latina, AND I will give you free Pre-K. Vote for me”.

    • delazeur says:

      Here’s a fuller transcript of the Sanders quote in question…

      Do I understand correctly that he said this in response to a Latina woman asking for advice on running for office? If so, not only did he think that this was something worth saying at all, he thought it was something that he needed to spell out to any would-be politicians with an “identity.”

      • Drexciya says:

        Do I understand correctly that he said this in response to a Latina woman asking for advice on running for office?

        According to the person who supplied the full quote, yes, that is correct. And as with the full context this, again, makes the quote worse. It’s completely indefensible on almost every level.

        • Junipermo says:

          Totally indefensible. He could have told her what policies he thought would be winning ones without that nonsense. Just…ick.

        • He seems to be nearly explicitly saying Ds and progressives should tie themselves to the Trump movement. His conclusion from this election should have been that the people he wanted to appeal to actually wanted Republicans. (A Sanders-Trump debate sure would have been a trip.) He should have been suspicious the minute Trump started using rhetoric similar to his. Instead he still thinks he can make use of Trump supporters’ emotion and turn it left.

          He also should have noticed that the people who supported him at the start mostly had no connection with the Democratic Party’s racial or gender politics, and that it was not likely they would easily accept those, past a certain superficial libertarianism.

  17. veleda_k says:

    I’m confused. During the election, I was told over and over again that one of the reasons that Hillary was terribad was that her presidency would be exactly like Bill’s, and in fact her campaign was exactly like Bill’s, despite all evidence to the contrary. (But when has Clinton Derangement Syndrome ever needed a silly little thing like evidence?) Now I’m hearing that Hillary’s campaign wasn’t like Bill’s, but it should have been.

    • FMguru says:

      I’m more struck by how the people who declared that a candidate who ever said a good word about Wall Street was an utterly unacceptable neoliberal sellout that they could never vote for under any circumstances are now insisting that the only way forward is to reorient the Democratic party towards pandering to racist white working people to the exclusion of all else.

      Total opposition to Wall Street, enthusiastic engagement with the Klan. Ladies and gentlemen, your new Left.

    • blackbox says:

      It’s almost like people just make up arguments as they go and see what sticks based on the current moment, in an attempt to justify their long-preconceived notions of the legitimacy of a person, group, or idea!

  18. JL says:

    While I’m probably not going to get into this thread except to agree that all politics are identity politics, we should stop trying to pretend otherwise, and the Lilla piece and similar are crap, it does seem worth mentioning that TPM took Bernie’s comments out of context. Doesn’t mean that they are what they should have been, and like most other commentators right now he’s failing to name class politics as a type of identity politics, but the context is worth seeing.

    • Lasker says:

      Bernie has been fairly disappointing since the election, though I do think he is finding his footing a bit recently.

      I think some are too quick to imagine that Bernie means “Working class whites” when he says “working class”. To a certain degree he has brought this on himself.

      But if you start from the assumption that he does mean all working people, I think when he says something like “The working class of this country is being decimated, that’s why Donald Trump won” it is just as good an analysis of what happened in Milwaukee, as it is of what happened in many rural white counties.

      • Linnaeus says:

        I think when he says something like “The working class of this country is being decimated, that’s why Donald Trump won” it is just as good an analysis of what happened in Milwaukee, as it is of what happened in many rural white counties.

        While I think that that explanation of why Donald Trump won leaves a whole lot out, to put it mildly, I’m glad you linked the article, because I think it’s a useful instrument for pointing out that so-called Rust Belt states 1) do have some large cities in them, 2) those cities have been affected by economic change, and 3) those cities have significant nonwhite populations. That really seems to have gotten lost in the post-election conversations I’ve been reading.

      • addicted44 says:

        That article only reinforced my belief that Dems need to stop treating elections as anything sacred, and start treating it as the game show it has become.

        • Lasker says:

          Well, there’s that too. Did these people fail to vote for Clinton because they didn’t hear the right message, or because of who she is/who the media led them to believe she is? Maybe they would have voted for her if they heard a different message, but maybe not. I think it always wise to approach people’s descriptions of why they voted the way they did with a degree of skepticism.

          I really think Clinton could have won with a message that focused more on what she was going to do to help people and less about how her opponent was a bad man, and I’m still mad about it. I read Bernie’s remarks with that frame. It should have worked, but it didn’t work. It didn’t just fail with white men, it failed with white women, and shockingly, it seems to have failed with black and latino voters too. Time to try something different.

          • addicted44 says:

            If we’re restricting ourselves to this article for the moment, what sort of believable argument could Hillary have made that would have convinced someone who thought Obama was no different than Bush that she would have made their lives better?

            And how would she have made such an argument without implicating Obama, and therefore hurting herself (being a Dem, and tied so closely to Obama).

          • Junipermo says:

            I suspect that some voters didn’t want a woman to be the boss of them. How many, I’m not sure. But I think it was a problem.

      • ASV says:

        Clinton won 76% of the vote in the city of Milwaukee, and by my count that article found one person who voted for her. This is the same pattern of voter profiles pieces we saw throughout the campaign.

    • nixnutz says:

      I just want to say that I didn’t read the TPM piece, I only read those excerpts from the speech and what I see is “Racism is a problem, but…” and then the “Hey, I’m a Latina” and “I’m a woman vote for me” strawmen. It’s crazy to me how many people in that thread seem to think it’s a defense.

      AT the same time I think Lasker has a point, although I’d apply it more to Erik’s writing, a lot of the “WWC” backlash seems to me like an excuse for wealthier progressives to shit on the working class in general as is their habit.

      But Bernie is proving himself to be exactly who I thought he was all along. A great guy to have in the Senate but you can’t be the leader of “the left” while repeatedly telling women and PoC that their issues are distractions. And doing so in such a dishonest and condescending way is adding insult to injury.

      • PJ says:

        “WWC” backlash seems to me like an excuse for wealthier progressives to shit on the working class in general as is their habit.

        Only if you read primarily white writers or socialize in mainly white progressive circles.

        Which is A Problem, but I don’t see how that should be a concern for PoC and LGBTQ who have basic existential fear as a result of the Trump election.

        This is a reification of the entire problem of centering whites in politics and then acting like everything is a class issue without actually understanding how the rhetoric around identity actually affects us in material ways.

        • nixnutz says:

          I agree with all of that but I do feel like the “a lot of” in the sentence you quoted was important. Certainly there has been a lot of writing that has explicitly called for centering white people so I certainly understand and am glad for the strong pushback against that but I think the impulse to use this moment to purge the coalition of one’s rivals is coming from a bunch of directions at once and it’s worth guarding against that.

          Specifically I was thinking of this space and the way so many people read Erik saying “maybe it would be helpful if the Democrats did something to materially help poor people” as a call for empathizing with Trump voters.

          • PJ says:

            “maybe it would be helpful if the Democrats did something to materially help poor people”

            It was called the ACA. [substitute minimum wage hikes, food stamps, the NLRB, tax hikes on the rich as needed]

            KY’s governor attacked it.

            They voted for him and Trump anyway, and now at the very least they’re got enough awareness to be afraid of what they’re about to lose.

            Trying to figure out what a working “appeal” might be around voters such as these is mug’s game for leftists.

            EDIT: The people who voted for Trump en masse do not constitute all of the people who will be hurt by this, as HRC appears to have won lower income whites to a certain extent. But you have to acknowledge the conundrum that a good part of KY whites basically voted to have health care taken away from their suffering white neighbors and themselves.

            • ColBatGuano says:

              This. To say that the Democrats need to focus more on class issues while ignoring the fact that Trump voters would gladly slit their own throats to keep “those people” down is to fail to understand this country.

              • witlesschum says:

                Poorer white people who voted Trump in Michigan have the political imaginations of suicide bombers. They don’t apparently care what the Dems do, unless it’s tell them they’re special for being white.

      • vjlute says:

        As a woman, I would prefer it if people stopped pushing identity politics on my behalf. Any “woman’s issue” that actually matters could be framed a different way, take abortion access, for instance. In my experience, having a female body and the ability to get pregnant can just as easily lead a person to being pro-life as it could lead to them being pro-choice. Pro-choice women push the idea that men can’t be pro-life because they will never have a fetus growing inside them, but millions of women believe that if they had a new life growing inside them, they would be morally wrong to willfully terminate it. This is why I believe the argument for abortion needs to be made on different grounds.

        Because of my life circumstances, access to abortion and birth control aren’t pertinent to me. These are “women’s issues,” but they don’t affect this woman. I am much more worried that by the time I have children, our public school system will be all but dismantled. I am worried that austerity economic policies will make it impossible for me to make it into the middle class so I can actually provide for a family. I am afraid that by the time I am old, we will have no Social Security or Medicare system. So Bernie didn’t tell me that “my issues” are distractions. He spoke to my deepest concerns.

        • Origami Isopod says:

          Uh, good for you?

          Not that I disagree that lots of women are anti-choice fuckmuppets with a shit-ton of internalized misogyny. Religious brainwashing is a hell of a drug, and so is gender essentialism. Also, family planning has indirect benefits for men and boys. I value pro-choice male voices over anti-choice female ones.

          That said, fetus-hugging is neither feminist nor progressive in this day and age, no matter how many Victoria Woodhull quotes the fetus-huggers dig up. And both abortion and birth control are absolutely economic issues — birth control even more so than abortion, given that many women who wouldn’t have an abortion themselves use birth control.

        • (((Hogan))) says:

          Pro-choice women push the idea that men can’t be pro-life because they will never have a fetus growing inside them


  19. Lord Jesus Perm says:

    *presses fast forward on four years of liberals relitigating the primaries*

    • Murc says:

      Oh, don’t be silly.

      We’ll have a new set of primaries to re-litigate after 2018! Not as sexy as the presidential ones but I guarantee you we’ll get some bad blood all up in there.

      • Aaron Morrow says:

        The Virginia and New Jersey elections are going to suck up a lot of media oxygen in 2017, so I might actually pay attention to the primaries.

        (I expect I’d support a chicken for Virginia State Senator if it could be made to reliably vote Democratic.)

      • CP Norris says:

        I thought in 2010 we lost because of emo diarists on Daily Kos, not because of the primaries.

    • Linnaeus says:

      I’m getting to this point myself. Some of the tensions that are evident in the post-election discussions about the Democrats aren’t going to go away. They’re inherent to the Democratic coalition, and the Democrats will have to do as they’ve long done, and manage them to the best extent possible.

  20. howard says:

    i recently cancelled my nytimes subscription, which was a sunday edition version, but the word didn’t seem to make it to the distributor yet, which is how i came to be aware of the existence of lilla’s essay.

    i took one look at it and wrote to that “this kind of shoddy, empty thinking is why i cancelled my subscription.”

  21. It’s the reduction of identity politics to “vote for me, I’m a woman!” that gives the game away (which is why I don’t think the full text of Sanders’s statement is exculpatory, because that’s clearly his starting point). At no point during her campaign did Clinton make as asinine an argument as that, and it is profoundly insulting to her supporters to suggest that they weren’t able to tell the difference between her and Margaret Thatcher. But it’s an accusation that kept being lobbed at women during the campaign, to the extent that you were supposed to feel almost ashamed of being happy to vote for the first major-party female candidate. Anyone who brings up that canard raises huge red flags for me – they’re either an idiot, or someone who wan’st paying attention at all during the campaign, or someone who’s just happy for an opportunity to put anyone who isn’t a white man in their place.

    • Exactly. This goes beyond constructing of speeches. It was a ready-made cliche that had nothing to do with the situation.

    • postmodulator says:

      Joe from Lowell did find polling at one point that suggested among enthusiastic HRC supporters, “first female president” was the single most common reason they gave for their enthusiasm. Something like 40%? It was a high enough number that I expressed surprise.

      • “Being excited to vote for the first female president” != “would vote for Ann Coulter if she was on the ballot”. I’m sure there were a lot of black people for whom the opportunity to vote for the first black president was their top reason for voting for Obama. Doesn’t mean they’d have cast their vote for Herman Cain or Ben Carson.

        And again, let’s not act as if there’s anything wrong with being excited to vote for the first woman president. The fact that Clinton’s gender was a deal-breaker for so many voters is surely proof of what a huge accomplishment this would have been, and how far America has to go before it’s ready for it.

        • (((Hogan))) says:

          LARRY KING: You must be … proud that at this stage in our history a black man is running for president on a major ticket.

          CHRIS ROCK: Um, you know what? I’m proud Barack Obama’s running for president. You know? If it was Flavor Flav, would I be proud? No. I don’t support Barack Obama because he’s black.

        • postmodulator says:

          And again, let’s not act as if there’s anything wrong with being excited to vote for the first woman president.

          I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. By November 8th, I was pretty excited to vote for the first female president. What I’m wondering is why 53% of white women didn’t want to. (Those are the last numbers I saw; that might have slipped under 50% with the lopsided California results still coming in.)

          I still feel like people are debating whether appealing directly to female voters is identity politics or somehow illegitimate or costing the Dems too many white males or whatever. And all that discussion is premature, because this campaign didn’t appeal to female voters, not in sufficient numbers. I live in Central Ohio. I heard the HRC campaign’s marketing pitch. It was aimed at moderate white women, and it didn’t get them.

          • Nick056 says:

            Democrats have not won white women as a group since 1996. Even Hillary won college educated white women by only 51% – 49%. To Trump!

            I think one critical error people made about this election was assuming we’d see an incredible gender gap. We did, in fact, see the largest gender gap in history. But it just wasn’t very wide. My answer is that evangelical white women and married older white women vote Republican in significant numbers and always will.

            • Origami Isopod says:

              IDK if they “always will,” but yes, it was foolish to count on their votes. Far too many white women are allied with white supremacy and regressive religion.

  22. D.N. Nation says:

    What, no Hamilton references? Weak sauce, Lilla.

  23. aturner339 says:

    As difficult as the task may seem the Democratic Party’s next mission has to be to either
    1.) Educate
    2.) Just plain outvote

    People in swing states who think like Sanders and especially Lilla. People who may support gender/orientation/racial equality in principle but who place these things firmly in a subordinate category of what justice is “really” about.

    • jim, some guy in iowa says:

      threading the needle between insufficient sensitivity to gender/orientation/racial equality and hyperawareness of those things is going to be a real challenge for any left/Dem pol working in a swing state. We’re just talking about so many fewer people/voters to work with

  24. kped says:

    Kind of OT, but can i just say how amazing it is watching the media “normalize”…everything? I caught a bit of Erin Burnett’s CNN show Thursday or Friday last week, and she had someone on the left and someone on the right debate…a fucking Muslim registry. And she even had the “but Obama had lists with names” to the guy on the left, comparing terror watch lists with A FUCKING REGISTRY WITH EVERY SINGLE MUSLIM ON IT.

    We say “this can’t happen here”, but Jesus, if it’s up to the media, it sure as hell can and will happen.

    • junker says:

      See also “Trump deciding whether or not to prosecute and jail Hilary Clinton is just like Obama deciding whether to prosecute actual torturers who committed an actual crime.”

      There are also reports going out that reps from 5 major news networks are about to meet secretly, off the record with Trump.

      • kped says:

        I’m sure they are meeting to talk about being fair to him, and treating the news as a safe space for him and his policies. And they will assure him that yes, that is the plan.

    • aturner339 says:

      Yes I think the more or less genuine embrace of gay marriage has blinded many of us on the left to the religious and racial biases of the “liberal media”

      These guys are pretty comfortable with kicking the weak so long as they don’t have to feel awkward about it at the Christmas party.

  25. Steve LaBonne says:

    The hidden assumption of people like Lilla and, sadly, Sanders is that the party can somehow pick up some of those white male working class voters while publicly disparaging as “identity politics” the issues crucially important to large portions of the Obama coalition- but magically without losing any of their votes in the process. To say that it’s not obvious how this can work is an understatement.

    • Junipermo says:

      It’s taking those parts of the Obama coalition for granted. It’s betting, correctly, that black, Latino, LGBT, and female voters won’t flee en masse to the GOP. What might happen, though, is that those voters just won’t vote in high enough numbers if they feel they’re issues aren’t being heeded.

      So yeah, the Dems can’t expect to win elections without keeping intact the Obama coalition.

      • tonycpsu says:

        It may also be that the Obama coalition is not easily reproducible under different circumstances. He was a uniquely charismatic candidate going with the “throw the bums out” factor, not against it as Hillary had to. Each battle happens on different terrain, and it’s important not to over-train your model on just a few recent data points. The situation in 2020 will be different, as will the universe of possible candidates, which certainly won’t contain Obama, and will be unlikely to contain an Obama-like figure.

      • xq says:

        But what are “their” issues? Polls show that if you ask black and Hispanic voters the issues they care about most, it’s mostly jobs, the economy, education…same as most white voters.

        • Steve LaBonne says:

          Black voters also care a hell of a lot about their kids being killed by cops, just to name one obvious one. And Hispanic voters care a hell of a lot about immigration justice. Maybe you need to get out more.

          • xq says:

            Maybe you need to get out more.
            Talking to individual people you know is not a good way to get at what a demographic group thinks. You really do need representative sampling.

            • Steve LaBonne says:

              Polling on issues, where results are extensively determined by exactly how questions are asked, is not reliable either.

              • xq says:

                Agreed. Opinion polling is hard. It’s still way better than just talking to people you know, though.

                Anyways, my point isn’t that we should take the polls as the final word on the subject. Just that we shouldn’t assume that Hispanic people, or gay people, or women care exclusively or primarily about issues that tend to be associated with those groups. There’s lots of evidence to the contrary.

                • Junipermo says:

                  No one is saying that black, Hispanic, gay, or female voters care exclusively about issues centered on their identity. But unlike white straight male voters, these folks don’t have the luxury of subsuming them in favor of economic issues. In fact, and I’m sure there are people here a lot smarter than me that can argue this, the issues of identity that these groups face have a direct bearing on their economic fortunes.

                • PJ says:

                  No one is saying that black, Hispanic, gay, or female voters care exclusively about issues centered on their identity. But unlike white straight male voters, these folks don’t have the luxury of subsuming them in favor of economic issues.

                  Latinxs absolutely care about economic issues, but they can’t exactly care about JOBS JOBS JOBS if their basic right to be in this country is under attack.

                  Also, ENDA??? ENDA was about protecting LGBTQ employment rights.

                  Also, these white male leftists consistently fail to point out that abortion as it is being fought in this country is about the ability for the government to protect poor women’s access to abortion and contraception.

                  These are “real” economic issues too. It would serve us a lot better than trying to find ways to euphemize around mill closures in the heartland. That may well be due to NEOLIBERALISM, but maybe also due to automation and technology, much of which we CANNOT put back in the box. So unless we have a concrete solution to rapid economic shifts, it seems like a pointless exercise.

                  Again, it is the absolute white, cis-het-male-centeredness of the discussion around class that has been deeply unhelpful so far and is being pushed back against.

                • Drexciya says:

                  What PJ said.

                  The degree to which what’s derisively called “identity politics” has been separated from their class components exposes the degree to which this conversation is being imposed on terms set out by white people, in accordance to what they fail to prioritize. There aren’t very many “identity politics” issues that are absent class implications or don’t function as racialized/gendered/sexuality-based class challenges. They’re only not viewed as such because those implications aren’t experienced, understood or respected by the people engaging in that reductive description.

                • xq says:

                  The question is not about what issues are “real economic issues”. I fully agree that abortion, immigration, etc. are important economic issues. The question is about what moves votes.

                  The gender gap on abortion has generally been tiny. Hispanics have more pro-immigration views than other demographics, but the gap isn’t that large. And Trump appears to have done better among Hispanics than Romney despite running the most racist anti-Hispanic (and specifically anti-immigrant) campaign in modern history. And he did only slightly worse among women compared to Romney.

                  There are real differences in views between demographics in this country, obviously. But in terms of the issues viewed as most important, there’s also a lot of similarity. So I don’t see any reason to believe that a political program based on providing good jobs would result in a an exodus of any group of voters from the Democratic party, just because it triangulated against “identity politics” in the weak way that Sanders does.

                • PJ says:

                  a political program based on providing good jobs

                  Leaving aside all the other things I disagree with in your response, can you tell me how to achieve this if conservatives demagogue massive government spending as well as corporate regulation constantly?

                  Because that is a policy that could lead to “good jobs”. So is the stance of “multinational corps can’t take our money to the islands/business should pay their fair share of taxes/be safe places to work”. None of those are winners thus far.

                • xq says:

                  Conservative demagoguery on government spending has been totally unsuccessful at convincing voters. See here for just one example:

                  Or just look at Trump running on a massive infrastructure program to provide jobs (not that his proposal is actually good–but he lied about it successfully).

                  If one candidate ran on jobs and the other ran on opposing government spending, the former would win easily.

                • (((Hogan))) says:

                  You don’t oppose government spending; you oppose taxes. That position seems to move product.

      • Steve LaBonne says:

        Yes, I’m talking about turnout. Which will require an extra dose of enthusiasm in a period where there will be little or know pushback from the legal system against Republican voter suppression schemes. How many people will potentially stand in line for hours to vote for candidates who ostentatiously ignore issues of vital importance to them?

        • Murc says:

          How many people will potentially stand in line for hours to vote for candidates who ostentatiously ignore issues of vital importance to them?

          It’s a good thing nobody, including Sanders, is proposing we run such candidates, then.

          • Amanda in the South Bay says:

            It’s a good thing Sanders speaks clearly and doesn’t leave any room for doubt whatsoever when he talks (fucking finger wags) about populism.

      • Nick never Nick says:

        Which is what happened in this election, incidentally.

    • D.N. Nation says:

      “Bill got the Bubba vote by dissing black thugs,” they say, while completely ignoring the real-life ramifications of terrible policy.

      How does one stop caring about the damn bathrooms without abandoning that debate and the bills that result from it wholesale to loathsome hate-mongers like McCrory?

      • Bruce B. says:

        The very moment someone invents a way for trans people to fully control their excretory systems, or to make every single cis person feel secure enough that they don’t worry about trans people in bathrooms and/or feel it inappropriate to assault strangers in bathrooms, that problem will go away and people can stop caring about it.

        We don’t seem to be making all that much progress on it so far.

  26. kped says:

    One constant mistake people make is to overreact to every event. “Oh my god, we lost this election, everything we do and believe is wrong” is the exact wrong way to react to Hillary Clinton losing an election by…winning the popular vote by nearly 2 million votes.

    To use this as a reason to begin distancing the party from it’s base would be criminal and stupid.

    Remember in 2004 when Democrats were doomed forever? And then in 2008 when it was a permanent Dem majority and demographics equaled destiny? Yeah, both of those turned out kind of wrong almost immediately, so how about people just get to work getting people elected and coming up with ideas people like instead of worrying that they’ve lost power forever.

    • Amanda in the South Bay says:


    • Linnaeus says:

      Hillary Clinton losing an election by…winning the popular vote by nearly 2 million votes.

      Not to mention losing by very thin margins in states that Obama won handily in 2008 and 2012. 100,000 or so votes distributed over three states go her way instead, and we’re not even having this conversation.

      • lunaticllama says:

        Yes, what I don’t understand about this debate is that Clinton just need to swing a couple more voters to her column. Maybe, you run the same campaign without all of the Clinton email stuff and win. Or you run the same campaign against an incumbent and win. I mean, it was really close, and Clinton’s message got more votes by a good margin, even if those votes aren’t in places that are needed to win the EC.

      • q-tip says:

        Nitpick: we’d be having a somewhat less disturbing conversation about the various recounts, lawsuits, etc. /nitpick

        • ASV says:

          And about the openly neoconfederate speech Tom Cotton gave in Iowa to kick off the 2020 primary cycle. And Trump’s tweets, obviously, but that’s a constant across timelines.

    • Srsly Dad Y says:

      Remember that time we had a president with worldwide business interests and no governing experience? Remember how he didn’t release any financial information and let his kids run both government policy and the business? Remember that time the country’s leading white nationalist propagandist was a senior White House adviser? Remember that time when a racist former senator from Alabama was in charge of enforcing the civil rights laws? Remember that time we had an Ayn Rand disciple as speaker of the house and Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency?

      Tough times, but we lived through them! Courage!

      • Srsly Dad Y says:

        For his chief of staff, [NatSec adviser designee Mike] Flynn chose his son, who is a looney on social media, calling President Obama a communist and fascist, tweeting racially insensitive comments and sharing absurd conspiracy theories

        Wow, deja vu, it’s like 2004.

      • Srsly Dad Y says:

        Please visit the Taking Democracy for Granted thread.

      • Srsly Dad Y says:

        My point, like that of Masha Gessen who knows a lot more than I do, is that, given the overwhelming number of unprecedented things happening and their similarity to right-wing populist autocratic takeovers in other countries, the correct response until the evidence changes is extreme alarm. We probably have roughly a year to find out whether the Darkness has descended for good. If not, good! Meanwhile saying this is just like prior electoral losses by the Democrats is dangerous pabulum IMO.

        • kped says:

          That’s fine, but really has nothing to do with my point – thinking that each election is wholesale change in the electorate and the losing party must change completely to attract voters or else be consigned to the ash heap of history.

          My point, which is quite clear, and which you are kind of ignoring…is that ignoring the most reliable voters in the coalition is a dumb thing to do.

          What you say here about having alarm with Trump and what he will do is absolutely correct. But it has nothing to do with my statement about electoral politics.

          • Srsly Dad Y says:

            That’s very fair, I’m jumping in and out of threads.

            • kped says:

              No problem, it does get confusing sometimes! I agree with your cause for alarm, and mentioned that elsewhere with CNN “debating” Muslim registries as if it were a slight change to the tax code. Believe me, I understand the fears well, and am not making light of them.

        • Junipermo says:

          But I don’t read kped’s comment as saying that this is just like prior losses. Alarm is the only appropriate response to electing a racist nut to the White House. I am a black woman with a biracial teenage daughter. Trust me, I am well and truly alarmed.

          What I understand kped to be saying is that Dems wold be very foolish and very, very wrong to toss their base voters aside in response to a loss that wasn’t really a loss in terms of popular votes, and where the electoral vote loss occurred because of a very thin margin in states that Dems have won recently. The solution is to organize and to fight back, hard, but not to abandon voters and bedrock principles in attempt to gain back white votes.

          • kped says:

            That is exactly my point. One thing Democrats cannot do is allow the media, or the Republicans to convince them that they should stop focusing on issues that their base holds dear, or that focusing on those things is bad “identity” politics, while focusing on white people is good “regular” politics.

            They have won 7 of the last 8 elections based on popular vote. Unfortunately, the electoral college has taken two of those wins. That doesn’t call for a rejection of the voters who vote 90% for the party already.

    • Junipermo says:

      I love this comment so much I want to marry it.

      • kped says:

        North Carolina elected a Dem governor. They should be able to undo some of the voter disenfranchisement in time for 2018 and 2020. Arizona moved 100K in our direction and will likely move that way going forward. It’s a few states that need to move.

        The next 4 years will suck, no one denies that. But I think there is a saying about throwing the baby out with the bathwater that applies here.

        • ForkyMcSpoon says:

          The NCGOP is trying to steal that election AND pack the NC Supreme Court to nullify their election losses there as well. I wouldn’t count my eggs on that one just yet.

          And even if Cooper takes office and the court is not packed, the GOP has a supermajority in the legislature there. I’m not optimistic we’ll do any better than preventing further voter suppression there, unless Anthony Kennedy realizes what a shit he was in Shelby or something. Although, saying that, I realize that would require the Trump administration to actually enforce their rulings, so…

          Despite all that, NC did still move closer to being a true tossup (its PVI was R+7 in 2008, R+6 in 2012, R+5 this year).

          Arizona will, absent new voter suppression laws, likely be a genuine swing state in 2020. Clinton got in there quite late, and despite that, it ended up being closer than NC. It’s plausible that if she had contested it from the beginning, it would’ve been even closer (or even won?).

    • urd says:

      Can you tell me how many of those votes were from people that voted not for Clinton, but against Drumpf?

      While we are very unlikely to ever know the answer to this, it is dishonest to ignore that a measurable amount of votes were protest votes against Drumpf, rather than votes of support for Clinton or anything she said.

      That is why it is important to be deeply concerned about this election and to have a critical examination of what happened, no matter where it might lead.

      And where do you get this from?

      To use this as a reason to begin distancing the party from it’s base would be criminal and stupid.

      While certain opportunists are using this for their own agendas, many people/concerned groups are hardly trying to distance the democrats from its base. If anything they are trying to get the party back on track.

      • kped says:

        First…enough with the stupid “Drumpf” thing…it was always one of Olivers weakest, and it is just lame now.

        As to the rest…gibberish. I don’t even know what point you are trying to make. Clinton got more votes because not Trump? And? So? What? Is there a point in your statement?

        And people are trying to use this to distance the party from it’s minority base. It’s the point of Scott’s piece, which linked to…a person trying to do just that!

        • urd says:

          Not going to happen. You felt it was weak, I thought it was great.

          Hardly gibberish. I’m not sure how I can make it any clearer to you; especially since Scott was saying people had to vote for Clinton, even if they didn’t like her, because she was better than Drumpf.

          Some people. Please provide evidence that refutes my statement. Yes, Scott’s is an example of what I mentioned: people with their own agenda.

      • CNN exit polling:

        how would you feel if clinton wins?
        44% positive (94% Clinton, 3% Trump, 3% other)
        53% negative (9% Clinton, 84% Trump, 7% other)

        how would you feel if trump wins?
        40% positive (3% Clinton, 96% Trump, 1% other)
        57% negative (78% Clinton, 14% Trump, 8% other)

        opinion of hillary clinton
        44% favorable (95% Clinton, 3% Trump, 2% other)
        54% unfavorable (11% Clinton, 82% Trump, 7% other)

        opinion of donald trump
        38%: favorable (4% Clinton, 95% Trump, 1% other)
        60% unfavorable (77% Clinton, 15% Trump, 8% other)

        opinion of presidential candidate you voted for
        41% strongly favor (53% Clinton, 42% Trump, 5% other)
        32% have reservations (48% Clinton, 49% Trump, 3% other)
        25% dislike opponents (39% Clinton, 51% Trump, 10% other)

        tl;dr: Clinton’s voters on average were more likely to feel positive about her winning, less likely to be voting for her despite an unfavorable opinion, and less likely to claim to be voting for her because they disliked her opponent. There appear to have been more “anyone but Hillary” voters than “anyone but Trump” voters.

        • urd says:

          This hardly refutes my main argument, and it has been pointed out multiple times, trying to draw such observations from exit polling is a fundamentally flawed idea.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Yes, exactly.

  27. Mike in DC says:

    I think chasing WWC voters is a strategic mistake. Outreach, yes. Some concrete policy proposals, of course. But I expect the RoI to be small, short to medium term, compared to focusing on getting out the base vote and fighting voter suppression tooth and nail. I think the universe of gettable WWC voters is fairly small in the short term. We’re talking about maybe going from 40% of the white vote to 44 to 46% at most. At the upper end that’s about 4 points in a presidential election. With better base turnout and limiting voter suppression, we can make up 2-3 points of that, and on top of that the demographic shift non white by 2 points every 4 years. Essentially the argument I’m making is that, absent massive vote suppression, Trump’s strategy this year is either a one off, or it has one more election at best to be a successful approach. With a less unpopular nominee, we can get to 42-44% of the white vote without having to slight the interests of the existing Democratic voter base.

  28. urd says:

    Do you have some type of personal issue with Sanders?

    I was going to ignore Mark Lilla’s “identity politics” essay — it’s pretty much the definition of self-refuting — until I saw that Bernie get back on the “class not identity” chicken.

    Reading the details of your post, I’m curious why it took Sanders’ statement, which you were less than honest about with your “class not identity” soundbite, to make it worth your time to address. Lilla’s piece should have merited your attention regardless of its “self-refuting”nature.

    • tonycpsu says:

      I won’t speak for Scott, but certainly there’s an escalation in importance of an issue when a policymaker with Sanders’ profile weighs in on it. A bunch of writers who already hated identity politics complaining about identity politics is a “dog bites man” story. Bernie Sanders taking an entire party to task for allegedly caring only about identity-based concerns is a major escalation in the amount of attention the issue will get.

      • urd says:

        Perhaps, but it is exactly this attitude that has put us in the current situation. Lilla’s piece should be addresses/attacked regardless. If you wait for policymakers and other influential types to weigh in before you protest, you’ve most likely waited too long.

        Also, Scott is less than honest about Sanders position, which makes this come across as a sideways attack on Sanders.

        • tonycpsu says:

          If LGM front-pagers weighed in on every argument about what Democrats should do now, or even just the subset of them that appear in three or more outlets, they couldn’t do their day jobs. This FAIR piece is the best takedown of Lilla, Haidt, and the cast of thousands on this issue that I’ve seen, and obviates the need for Lemieux or anyone else to dig into the same level of detail. Someone linked to it in comments yesterday, so it’s not like it didn’t appear on the site.

          TL;DR: The people who are complaining about identity politics hated identity politics to begin with. This is pure self-serving concern trolling.

          • urd says:

            This hardly falls into the category of “every argument”; it’s pretty ugly in my opinion and should be treated as such.

            Yes, it is a fair take of Lilla; I had no issues with that. It was the sly sideways jab at Sanders that I felt was less than honest.

            Really? You have no knowledge of my position on such things so please refrain from making foolish assumptions.

          • djw says:

            If LGM front-pagers weighed in on every argument about what Democrats should do now, or even just the subset of them that appear in three or more outlets, they couldn’t do their day jobs.

            God, yes. The world is drowning in “Trump won because you people did X wrong” where X is a hobbyhorse of longstanding for the author. My own view is that if you treat Trump’s victory as little more than fodder for some ongoing ideological or interpretive dispute, you’re not taking this anywhere near seriously enough, and you’re probably not worth the time and effort to engage.

        • random says:

          Also, Scott is less than honest about Sanders position, which makes this come across as a sideways attack on Sanders.

          I’ve read the original piece with the source quote in Boston Magazine and Scott isn’t misrepresenting anything.

          Sanders really is calling for a surrender of some indeterminate number of critical battles for various Democratic constituencies, on the assumption that this would enable an alliance with social conservatives that would then enact a round of staunchly socialist economic policies.

          • PJ says:

            on the assumption that this would enable an alliance with social conservatives that would then enact a round of staunchly socialist economic policies.

            And it should be noted to all these would-be Marxists that this assumption is based on little to no evidence from American history, long ago or recent.

          • urd says:

            You and I are taking something very different away from the article then.

            I will leave it at that.

            • random says:

              Not only that, but he also said the following words:

              “It is not good enough for someone to say, ‘I’m a woman! Vote for me!’””

              which is itself just wildly misrepresentative of what anyone has ever said or done or campaigned on at any point ever.

  29. Drexciya says:

    It must be said that Mark Lilla’s standard for the “End of Identity Liberalism” is a borderline colonial understanding of mass assimiliation, directed largely to colonial subjects. He explicitly avoids seeking the ends of different avenues of oppression and proposes, instead, that people, starting from their youth, be brainwashed into uncritically accepting narratives about America and aspirations for American unity that extricate the historical, material and political basis for meaningfully correcting America’s actions and that disrespectfully destroys communal backdrops that have been formed in spite of mainstream and government marginalization.

    It wasn’t a directly eliminationist article, but it certainly called for a psychological version of the same, where differences in history, in culture, in levels of oppression and in levels of desired access to American mythology are sublimated by a patriotism that reduces them to non-factors, and makes it easier to accept a personal/national politics that practices a dedicated indifference to opposition to oppression, in furtherance of oppressions that get reproduced:

    Teachers committed to such a liberalism would refocus attention on their main political responsibility in a democracy: to form committed citizens aware of their system of government and the major forces and events in our history. A post-identity liberalism would also emphasize that democracy is not only about rights; it also confers duties on its citizens, such as the duties to keep informed and vote. A post-identity liberal press would begin educating itself about parts of the country that have been ignored, and about what matters there, especially religion. And it would take seriously its responsibility to educate Americans about the major forces shaping world politics, especially their historical dimension.

    Some years ago I was invited to a union convention in Florida to speak on a panel about Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous Four Freedoms speech of 1941. The hall was full of representatives from local chapters — men, women, blacks, whites, Latinos. We began by singing the national anthem, and then sat down to listen to a recording of Roosevelt’s speech. As I looked out into the crowd, and saw the array of different faces, I was struck by how focused they were on what they shared. And listening to Roosevelt’s stirring voice as he invoked the freedom of speech, the freedom of worship, the freedom from want and the freedom from fear — freedoms that Roosevelt demanded for “everyone in the world” — I was reminded of what the real foundations of modern American liberalism are.

    This would be a creepy piece, regardless of the period, but in the age of Trump, and in the face of connections between other such articles (and cross-partisan engagement with that line of thought), it’s almost singularly disturbing. He’s not asking for Americans to aspirationally come together so much as he’s telling marginalized communities to not exist in ways that make their distinctions easier to ignore and to leave their complaints at the door for the greater good should they decide to. And while that expectation from white people is as American as America itself, it should be troubling how publicly it was made, how establishment access was able to uncontroversially amplify it and how strains of thought from “assimilate!” to “speak American!” “class solidarity” are conceptually represented in it.

  30. manual says:

    I love how if you read this blog you would think bernie sanders is all that is wrong and why the democrats lost the election. Im not a berner, but the idea that performative gestures are winning politics was not borne out in the election.

    Walking voting precincts in East Durham, Roxboro and, NC, there was very little enthusiasm. Almost no one knows or responds to the complicated voodoo language of academic idenitarianism. This does not mean identity is not important, but the way professional class people like Scott use it is meaningless and does not seep down to anyone new. Clearer communication on the economy and even identity would be much more welcome. The academic jargon of intersectionality did not turn out the voters that its proponents thought it would.

    • Drexciya says:

      The pursuit of representation is not performative, it was the basis for the need for black suffrage, the desired goal of black inclusion in government, and opposition (both electoral, structural and in the form of terrorism) to meaningful black representation is why both Reconstructions have now faced a Redemption. The absence of deliberate efforts at voter suppression from your description of anything in North Carolina exposes the sincere conceptual limits of an analysis that doesn’t axiomatically find this important. If your leftism doesn’t understand that, your leftism isn’t trying to be maximally useful to me and mine, and that’s fine, but it’s also subject to criticism and legitimate rejection on that basis. And, for my part, the reason why I’m being so critical of Sanders is that if he substantively and perceptually represents the left flank of the Democratic party, then that means the most-left flank has no room (and is disinterested in creating room) for my interests. And, again, that’s fine and expected, but I prefer clarity about both my allies and enemies and proceed along that basis.

      • manual says:

        I was in North Carolina. Know all about the suppression. It was very real and bad. Worked on the precursory steps to moral mondays with Reverend Barber. Please dont tell me about what did and did not happen in that state. I have no interest in your NYT analysis.

        Again, academic language does not resonate. Black vote was down across the board. Unlike you I am not interested in re-litigating some dumb Hillary vs Bernie debate. I just think this blog is very divorced from what is going on. But carry on as you see fit. I will do the same.

        • Drexciya says:

          I haven’t relitigated (or sought to relitigate) the primary once all thread. As it stands, Bernie Sanders is and is painting himself as a leader of the Democratic Party who seeks to determine its trajectory. It’s vitally important, especially for how leftism is defined, to acknowledge what’s both present and absent from that trajectory and the limits in what he feels the need to be urgently responsive to.

          As for my framing of your remarks, I said, correctly, that what you dismissed as “performative” includes issues of central importance to black people’s ability to gain and exercise political power, and painting that as “performative” politics or a desire for adherence to “performative” politics is dangerously reductive. You can say it’s “NYT analysis” and make as many gestures toward lurking elitism as you want, but I have a hard time taking it seriously if the pursuit of black political power qualifies as an elite interest, sold in academic jargon.

        • Nick056 says:

          Worth pointing out, too, that as relates to NC, the Circuit Court struck down all challenged provisions of the new voting rights law in July. (Said the law discriminated with “surgical precision.”) In October the plaintiffs went back to district court because they said the early voting plans in place were non-compliant with the CoA order, and that motion was denied, but the voter id portions of the law, like all challenged provisions, were not in place on election day. And overall turnout jumped by 4.5% from 2012, or over 200K votes. None of this discounts the confusion caused by the voter suppression laws, or the possible discriminatory effects of the early voting plan that was in place (don’t know enough to express an opinion, but that I believe the court denying their motion was the same district court that upheld the law in the first place). But it bothers me to see efforts at voter suppression in NC discussed without mentioning that the laws were struck down prior to the election and turnout overall increased in the state. It is very difficult to say that the voter id law which was struck down months prior to election day had an outcome-determinative effect on the election.

    • (((Hogan))) says:

      I love how if you read this blog you would think bernie sanders is all that is wrong and why the democrats lost the election.

      I think you misspelled “Comey.”

    • The academic jargon of intersectionality did not turn out the voters that its proponents thought it would.

      First of all, as much as I like LGM, I do not exactly see it as a hotbed of discussion of intersectionality.

      Second, I don’t know anyone who has asserted that “the academic jargon of intersectionality” would turn out voters. I certainly haven’t seen it at LGM. If you have an example, please enlighten me.

    • ColBatGuano says:

      Almost no one knows or responds to the complicated voodoo language of academic idenitarianism.

      Yeah, Clinton made a huge mistake when she based her entire campaign on that. /s

  31. Docrailgun says:

    The idea that the Democratic Party or the left in general isn’the embracing the white (or any other) working class is a conservative fantasy created to push people away from the left. The problem is that the younger writers have grown up knowing only this lie from the media and many of the older writers in the MSM are or have become conservative and so further this idea in their writing.
    Even Sanders has fallen for this, but then he’s also out of touch with unions and the working classes of all colors. If he really wanted change he would be working tirelessly to strengthen labor unions and other protections instead of saying scary words like “socialism”.

    So, let’s be clear: it wasn’t the “identity politics” of the left or not embracing middle-to-lower class white folk that lost the election… it was just that the right managed to get more voters to the polls in the right areas. Why? Thirty years of lies about the Clintons in the media. It really is the media’s fault for not calling out conservative guests on their bullshit. It really is the media’s fault for letting Trump blather on about things instead of fact checking.

  32. postmodulator says:

    The Sanders quote here looks worse the more context is exposed around it. A counter to that, though: after a bunch of worrying that Sanders would “work with Trump” on infrastructure stuff, he just Tweeted that the Trump infrastructure plan is bullshit.

    “Sanders won’t do the right thing” followed by Sanders doing the right thing is evolving into a perennial of our discourse.

    • Murc says:


      Like, the Democrats aren’t even being intransigent about this. If Trump came up with an infrastructure plan that was only 50% Republican bullshit and 50% Democratic priorities, that would probably be worth passing.

      But as always, the Republicans will refuse to even begin to meet us halfway.

      • postmodulator says:

        Hell, the Obama stimulus was about fifty percent Republican bullshit and fifty percent Democratic priorities, because somehow those are the proportions necessary to get the votes of three Republican Senators.

    • urd says:

      But I’ve also noticed that Sanders is given little credit for doing the right thing; all that is remembered is that he once “wouldn’t do the right thing”.

      Compare that to Clinton who switched many social positions she had due to the traction Sanders was getting in the primaries. In her case we are expected to commend her for changing her position, never-mind that she has a awful track record of being insincere on many of her positions.

      • postmodulator says:

        I’ll be blunt: I don’t want to be in the position of agreeing with you, but there are two commenters (one of whom is usually sensible) upthread basically making him History’s Greatest Monster, and as near as I can tell they mainly resent him for daring to run.

        • tonycpsu says:

          He deserves (and has received) great credit for pushing Hillary to the left. He got my primary vote. He is also mind-numbingly stupid on modern issues of race, gender, and other axes of marginalization. He had a full primary campaign to figure it out and still hasn’t. He continues to flog the straw man of Democrats only running on identity.

          At this point, if he can’t correct his perception, and can’t shut the fuck up about the issues on which he’s incorrect, he runs the risk of harming the cause more than he’s helping it. The left needs him right now, which means understanding his limitations or overcoming them. He’s shown no ability to do either.

          • urd says:

            Yes, this is true. But he has not received any credit for changing his thinking on modern issues of race, gender and marginalization; despite your incendiary non-supported statement to the contrary.

            Where you see him as making the same mistakes I see him as trying, not always successfully, to merge race and gender with class.

            I think your are incorrect; if anything the continued efforts to look for every reason/excuse except the ones staring us in the face for Clinton’s loss is far more dangerous for the democratic party. The left needs his voice now, just not in the muzzled fashion you would advocate for.

            • tonycpsu says:

              When has he shown any growth on these issues? A Latina asks him for advice on running for office and he launches into his straw-man filled tirade about identity politics. If he’s growing, it’s at a scale that requires a microscope, and that’s not going to cut it.

              • urd says:

                That’s it?

                And without seeing the actual context, I can’t even say I agree or disagree with his response.

                Well if you’ve already set out to look for certain responses, you’re sure to miss those that don’t conform. A microscope would be an improvement in comparison.

          • MDrew says:

            The left needs him right now

            This is exactly the problem. He is a politician of very limited range (which can be an asset and was for him in a national campaign where message clarity is what can get you from nowhere to national notice), but he basically the best the class-focused left has to offer, because culture/race/identity politics have such a strong hold on the commitments of almost all leading Democrats. Other Democrats simply can’t drive a class message in this way, because they don’t have the flexibility to say what they need to say and let the cultural politics of it fall where they may.

            Which can be done artfully, and that’s the problem. If there were more mainstream politicians pushing class as the main driver of Democratic strength (as there should be), there would be some, maybe many, who were better at handling the cultural politics of that than Sanders is. And then they really wouldn’t need Sanders so much right now (and, indeed, he likely never would have run).

            If you’re dependent on a 73-year-old socialist Senator from Vermont mainly (obviously) focused on class as the central divide in politics (and al of history) getting the signaling language of 2016 U.S. cultural politics right (or even just acceptably wrong) in order to have a viable class-focused phalanx of your party, then you are fully screwed as a political left. You need more people, a significant part of your overall talent pool, trying to get that class-heavy balance right. It’s can’t be just Sanders.

            If the response is what Lemiuex’s would be, that the party is already plenty class-focused than you very much, then Sanders is really not needed so badly, is he? Are we to believe you all or Scott would be decrying the party’s lack of focus on class in this year’s messaging had Sanders not run? There’s no chance. In your-all’s view, theres plenty of class talk as is, at this point it is detracting too much from race-and-gender-and- politics, and that’s that. We move on on that basis.

            To which I say, you do that. See how it goes for you.

            • Steve LaBonne says:

              Hillary Clinton is not an effective communicator of any message whatsoever- she’s a policy wonk, not a politician. Having said that, to pretend that the actual content of her campaign was not class-based is daft. If, for example, my beloved Senator Sherrod Brown had run he would have been much more effective at making populist noises (which, don’t get me wrong, would have been all to the good) but would not actually have been advocating anything more than marginally different. Ditto Warren.

              • (((Hogan))) says:

                My theory is that “populism” is about 20% policy content and 80% style.

                • so-in-so says:

                  I think this has to be the case, or a “populist GOP politician” would be an impossibility.

                • Steve LaBonne says:

                  I think so too. And pace Bernie and his fans we can easily improve greatly on the style without throwing voters of color and women under the bus. Which is a hopeful thought for 2020.

  33. gurkle2 says:

    Comment deleted by user

    • Drexciya says:

      The Democrats in 2014 and 2016 thought that issues like incarceration and police brutality would drive African-American turnout to high levels, but it didn’t.

      True, in 2014 and 2016, Democrats acknowledged the issue exists. But I think it’s questionable to portray their engagement with it as an unambiguous, obvious positive that should/would be recognized as such, since it also went hand-in-hand with the political need to restrict overt criticism of police in absolutist moral terms and not problematize them in the same way that’s politically accorded to, say, Wall Street. The Democrats wanted to have it both ways, and appeal to the critical activist segment of the black population while also not overtly tarnishing an institution respected by a substantial number of white Americans. The same is true with how ticket representation was handled. They thought brown/black people voting for Good Whites was practically, morally, and emotionally the same as voting for…themselves, which is mistaken, and which misses an essential facet of Obama’s appeal. “They’re one of us” is a powerful tool, and it should have been understood and deployed as such. The Democrats’ racial politics is rife with equivocation between entirely contradictory political forces, and it’s a mistake to analyze its utility without factoring that.

      Also, I’m exceedingly suspicious of post-election post-mortems that don’t mention voter suppression. We weren’t operating in a level playing field and had barriers that warrant acknowledgment. This isn’t a question that can be accurately weighed if you assume the election is separable from systemic conditions that undermine its democratic legitimacy.

      Edit: Oh, my bad, comment got deleted.

      • LeeEsq says:

        If the Democratic Party did as you suggested than they would be reduced from a minority party to a rump party. Your prescription for the Democratic Party assumes that all Americans of color see these issues the same way you do, which is a fact not in evidence, and that the votes of White Americans who aren’t in full agreement with you are not necessary to gain political office. That just defies demographics and the allocation of seats in Congress and state legislatures.

        • aturner339 says:

          I just wish we could dispense with the circumlocution of “white voters who disagree” and just confront the fact that white supremacy (or privilege or whatever we’d like to call it) is still a political force. That way we aren’t asking people of color to pretend that this is morally neutral

          • LeeEsq says:

            There is a reason why I used the term white voters who disagree. The idea that reasonable people can disagree on an issue is an important part of liberalism. Saying that reasonable people can’t disagree is illiberal. I agree that there are millions of White Americans who disagree with Drexciya and BLM because of racism alone but there needs to be a way for people to disagree in part or in whole without getting accused of racism even if they are wrong. No issue is ever going to have universal consensus and it seems that accusing everybody who disagrees with you on every little detail as a bad faith actor or racist is not going to be helpful.

  34. Linnaeus says:

    Despite telling myself that I’ve got nothing more to add to these discussions, I have, well, more to add. Sort of – here are a couple of essays worth reading on “what now?”:

    Robin D.G. Kelley in the Boston Review:

    But the outcome should not have surprised us. This election was, among other things, a referendum on whether the United States will be a straight, white nation reminiscent of the mythic “old days” when armed white men ruled, owned their castle, boasted of unvanquished military power, and everyone else knew their place. Henry Giroux’s new book America at War With Itself made this point with clarity and foresight two months before the election. The easy claim that Trump appeals to legitimate working-class populism driven by class anger, Giroux argues, ignores both the historical link between whiteness, citizenship, and humanity, and the American dream of wealth accumulation built on private property. Trump’s followers are not trying to redistribute the wealth, nor are they all “working class”—their annual median income is about $72,000. On the contrary, they are attracted to Trump’s wealth as metonym of an American dream that they, too, can enjoy once America is “great” again—which is to say, once the country returns to being “a white MAN’s country.” What Giroux identifies as “civic illiteracy” keeps them convinced that the descendants of unfree labor or the colonized, or those who are currently unfree, are to blame for America’s decline and for blocking their path to Trump-style success.

    Derecka Purnell in Vox:

    But I am choosing to stay and fight. Not just out of stubbornness or naiveté — exactly the opposite. It’s because of what my experience and my understanding of history tell me are the practical opportunities that exist in this unprecedented moment. It just might bring about all of the conditions that the movement I believe in needs.

    I do not wish to romanticize the possibilities under President-elect Trump. In the short time since November 8, there’s already been evidence that bigots have been emboldened by his win to attack members of marginalized groups. Immigrant’s rights, reproductive justice, climate change, Supreme Court nominations, foreign relations, black survival, and much more are at stake.

    Yet, these issues are not new. Those of us who have been fighting for justice for black people can grieve and protest, but we ought not be paralyzed by a spirit of fear due to struggle. “Freedom,” Angela Davis once proclaimed, “is a constant struggle.” Our commitment to liberation comes from a memory of resistance and transcends the results of any election — even one as consequential as this one. We have to remember that, and organize accordingly.

    • Drexciya says:

      Wow. I hadn’t read the second article, but what a refreshing read and a surprising place to see it. That’s shockingly close to where my mind and heart’s been.

      Edit: Not to detract from the Boston Review piece, which is also fantastic and as relevant now as it was when it was written a week or so ago.

      • Steve LaBonne says:

        Re Kelley: as he says, the great majority of whites have always been ready to choose white supremacy over economic self-interest when forced to choose. The path forward he lays out relies on prying a substantial number of us away from that choice. But the history he summarized shows that this has never happened except maybe for one or two highly ephemeral instances. So how the hell do we do that? I’m surrounded by conservatives where I work- I know how they think, and that they value white supremacy over life itself. I just don’t know how to fight that.

    • Lasker says:

      Very good links, Thanks.

  35. Emmryss says:

    From The Guardian:

    Some of the most prominent members of the so-called “alt-right”, the white nationalist movement that helped propel Donald Trump to the presidency, gathered in Washington DC on Saturday to plot how the movement can “start influencing policy and culture” under the Trump administration.

    Can you imagine if that read, “Some of the most prominent members of the Black Panthers, the black nationalist movement that helped propel Barack Obama to the presidency, gathered in Washington DC to plot how the movement can ‘start influencing policy and culture’ under the Obama administration”? The full-out media Republican freak-out?

  36. ohplease173 says:

    This guy says TPM has mischaracterized the Sanders speech:

  37. Drexciya says:

    OT, but Jacobin’s lengthy project of growing the “left” by trying to exclusively appeal Republicans/Trump voters has reached its apotheosis in a lengthy defense of Trump, recasting his speeches as not-too-especially racist, and Trump as a spokesman for working class concerns:

    It has become apparent that very few coastal lefties, progressives, or liberals actually watched any full-length Trump speeches. I have a different problem: I may have watched too many. During early spring I went down a multi-week-long, late-night, Trump YouTube rabbit hole. I found myself watching hours of raw video feed of Trump campaign speeches. Insomnia got me there but I stayed for the mesmerizing dada quality of the Trump show, and for the mind-bending experience of watching a reality TV freak articulate surprisingly subversive political truths about the economy and America’s role in the world.

    Contrary to how he was portrayed in the mainstream media Trump did not talk only of walls, immigration bans, and deportations. In fact he usually didn’t spend much time on those themes. Don’t get me wrong, Trump is a racist, misogynist, and confessed sexual predator who has legitimized dangerous street-level hate. Most of all, Trump is a fraud. And his administration will almost certainly be a terrible new low in the evolution of American authoritarianism.

    But the heart of his message was something different, an ersatz economic populism, which has been noted far and wide, but also a strong, usually overlooked, antiwar message. Both spoke to legitimate working-class concerns.

    Furthermore, his message was delivered with passion and a strange warmth. Dare I say it? Donald Trump has charisma. It is a mix of almost comic self-confidence, emotional intelligence, a common touch, but also at times slight vulnerability. Let’s face it, even the aura of sex around Trump — sleazy and predatory, sometimes sophomoric, as in the “small hands” jokes — was at least part of a libidinal aura.

    Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, constrained by sexist double standards and lawyerly calculation, too often came across as bloodless.

    It actually gets worse, and includes a description of Peter Thiel as someone who, unlike the coastal “elites” that found Trump’s speeches noxious, had his pulse on the working class and understood Trump’s appeal accordingly.

    • so-in-so says:

      Considering what else Theil is into, the phrase “had his pulse on the working class” is, well, maybe too accurate?

      Got to get those young arterial systems from somewhere!

    • Brien Jackson says:

      Jesus Christ, where do you start?

      Fuck these morons.

    • sibusisodan says:

      I don’t understand how you can even get to an analysis of what the heart of Trump’s campaign was. Especially if you begin by admitting that he didn’t have a coherent philosophy and listeners took what they wanted from his words!

      This silly idea that people took him ‘seriously, but not literally’… ‘I like this guy! He says what I assume he’s saying, despite not actually saying it.’

      If that’s something to emulate, can we all just go home now?

      • Origami Isopod says:

        “Seriously but not literally” and vice versa need to be stricken from the whole conversation. I’ve only ever seen them used as excuses to vote for a reactionary agenda.

    • Lasker says:

      This is the complete passage on Thiel, reference to his understanding of the working class is notably absent:

      One of the few coastal elites to have cracked the Trump discursive code is the otherwise odious Peter Thiel, who told the National Press Club, “the media is always taking Trump literally. It never takes him seriously, but it always takes him literally.” Voters on the other hand, said Thiel, “take Trump seriously but not literally.” Bingo!

      I don’t think the article is defending trump, I think you are letting your (frequently justifiable) frustration with the publisher lead you into a gross misreading.

      • Brien Jackson says:

        Right, Trump is a sociopathic conman who lies pathologically. He says whatever he thinks the marks want to hear in the moment.

      • Drexciya says:

        I don’t think the article is defending trump, I think you are letting your (frequently justifiable) frustration with the publisher lead you into a gross misreading.

        Not at all impossible, but do you think it’s fair to interpret the piece as taking Trump’s “economic populism” at face value, and then uncritically framing his appeal to the “working class” in a way that completely disconnects those appeals from their inescapable xenophobia and racism? Like, in the part I quoted, the writer says “Contrary to how he was portrayed in the mainstream media Trump did not talk only of walls, immigration bans, and deportations. In fact he usually didn’t spend much time on those themes.” But if you read further, they go on to say the wall was “endlessly invoked” and that he made it “sound like a public works scheme, an infrastructure-based jobs program.”

        Part of this is outright dishonesty about what Trump said, but a large part of it is outright dishonesty about what people heard and what could be said to be heard by his supporters. The article’s defense of Trump lies in distancing both Trump’s appeal and receptiveness to Trump’s appeal from racism, which the writer goes on to do here, presenting one of Trump’s only consistent policy proposals, which frequently got chants, as an aside:

        A typical Trump speech would tee-up with reference to “the wall” but then quickly pivot to economic questions: trade, jobs, descriptions of economic suffering, critiques of deindustrialization.

        It’s an extraordinary piece, and while I won’t deny disliking both the publication and their project, I also don’t think I’m lying about it being apologia for Trump and his supporters that uses the incoherence of Trump’s speeches and random anecdotes (with suspect data) to project a non-racist rationale for Trump support that’s not all evident from the post-election actions of those self-same supporters. It’s effectively using his speeches to do what they claim Trump is doing with them. The “but he’s a terrible person” moments are afterthoughts that are undermined by the article-length qualifiers in the rest of the piece, and it’s incredible that it was written at a leftist publication.

        If there are other interpretations of it, I’d be open to seeing them, but there’s something disturbing about the flexibility of a definition of populism that calls Trump a fraud and also frames Trump as an economically populist avatar of the working class, just as there’s something disturbing about someone who calls for torture and supported the wars in question being framed as an effective embodiment for anti-war sentiments. Jacobin’s stopped trying the balance the idea that you can philosophically align with anti-racism and racists by simply denying and avoiding the racism of the latter, and pivoting to what they actually care about. Which is fine and predictable, but this piece is more open with that than almost any other I’ve read from them, and it should be clarifying as a consequence.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          Yeah, when you watch Trump talk about building a wall to keep brown-skinned immigrants out and choose hear the WPA rather than race-bating, I’m not inclined to read your Trump apologia charitably.

        • Lasker says:

          I don’t doubt your honesty and certainly don’t think you are lying.

          There’s no contradiction in saying both that Trump successfully sold himself as an “economically populist avatar of the working class” and that his economic populism is fraudulent. The article would be stronger if it called out Trump’s anti-war posturing as equally fraudulent, which it certainly is/was. The failure to do so, along Parenti’s history as linked by XTPD (which I did not know of) does suggest the alarming possibility that he actually believes Trump was the candidate of peace. But at the same time, I think there can be little doubt that many voters saw him that way.

          While I think you are wrong to suggest that the article is an apologia for Trump, I think you are correct to say that it can be seen as an apologia for Trump voters, since it suggests that many of them were not primarily motivated by racism. That is different than saying they aren’t racist. Given what a vote for Trump implicitly endorses I am comfortable saying any vote for trump was a racist act. Parenti may not agree, I really couldn’t say.

          Would I be correct in saying that the suggestion that most Trump voters were not motivated by racism is what you most object to in the article?

          And if so, could you say why you think that belief is so dangerous?

          • Lasker says:

            You know what, never mind. I don’t really want to defend the article as an explanation of people’s support for Trump. I initially read it with the frame of understanding Trump’s rhetorical style, how it lends itself to friendly interpretation by those already favorably disposed to him, etc. And read simply on that level, I think it is a success. Beyond that, I think your criticisms are strong.

    • XTPD says:

      Noteworthy: The author of that piece is both the son of Milošević apologist Michael Parenti and a genocide denier himself, so anything he has to say on the rise of Trumpism is less than worthless right out the gate.

      Jesus fucking Christ.

  38. urd says:

    Further proof that you are incorrect; identity politics is only part of the solution. Lilla’s article still needs to be attacked, but people must wake up to the fact that Clinton’s approach was wrong.

    • Brien Jackson says:

      Mr. Pfeiffer’s grandmother, an avid supporter of Mrs. Clinton, spent months trying to convince him to vote for her. But he could not get over his revulsion at what he saw as trust issues related to the Clinton Foundation. (Mr. Pfeiffer’s grandfather pushed him toward Mr. Trump, but he found him even less appealing.)”

      And the article eventually notes that Voter ID laws suppressed thousands of votes. So you’re still an asshole.

      • urd says:

        How did I know this would happen; only seeing what you want to see. You might want to keep reading…

        Perhaps the biggest drags on voter turnout in Milwaukee, as in the rest of the country, were the candidates themselves. To some, it was like having to choose between broccoli and liver.

        No the article eventually notes the above. This is what happens when you cherry pick your information.

        But I guess if you want to keep losing, continue to ignore reality.

        • Brien Jackson says:

          Which is why I quoted the Clinton Foundation nonsense. Don’t be dense on top of being an asshole.

          • urd says:

            And your point is?

            If anything this only strengthens my argument in showing that identity politics failed to address real issues these people faced and made them susceptible to such bullshit news.

            Talk about being dense and insulting.

            • Brien Jackson says:

              Um…no. It means Clinton was affected by 25 years of bullshit coverage, and tells us nothing about how swapping someone else in would have done. Holy fuck, one of the interviewees complains about Obama’s economic record…mbut then literally says he liked Obama anyway because his son got to see a black President.

              • urd says:

                Keep telling yourself that if you makes you feel better.

                Clinton was affected by running a poor campaign, mostly ignoring key economic issues (or being on the wrong side of them) until Sanders nudged her to the left, and not treating Drumpf seriously. To your claim she was affected by 25 years of bullshit…didn’t she tell us she could overcome that? Are you now claiming she didn’t know what she was getting into?

                Oh you mean this quote:

                “I’m so numb,” said Jahn Toney, 45, who had written in Mr. Sanders. He said no president in his lifetime had done anything to improve the lives of black people, including Mr. Obama, whom he voted for twice. “It’s like I should have known this would happen. We’re worse off than before.”

                But Mr. Obama did do something important: “He did give black people something to aspire to. That’s a lot. I’m happy my son was able to see a black president.”

                Nice misrepresentation of what the person said. Funny, I don’t see the word like.

                You might want to stop quoting the article like this as you are just digging a deeper hole.

  39. Rob in CT says:

    I’ve read what Sanders said several times, and I’ve read this thread now several times. And is it ok to think that what he said was mostly ok-to-good but had a couple of problems (notably the “vote for me I’m a woman” bit which is a strawman as others have noted)? And also think that given this whole debate over “identity politics” we seem to be having, it’s reasonable to be vigilant? There are people on the Left who are making arguments that go way past what Sanders is saying and in that environment, I get people giving him side-eye.

    • Drexciya says:

      He had an interview at GQ, which is remarkable only in that it does nothing to contradict either interpretation of his remarks. If you were fine with his remarks and thought he acted well, you will continue to think his heart’s in the right place. If you didn’t, there’s more than enough to persist in thinking that.

      I wish he thought “not being racist, not being sexist, not being a homophobe” was actually connected to meaningful policy with no small degree of class implications, though. You’re not anti-racist if you don’t think in affirmative action, or addressing criminal justice is relevant, you’re not feminist if you don’t believe in and support reproductive rights or equal pay, you’re not pro-queer if you don’t oppose the imposition of anti-Trans laws, or support gay marriage/ENDA. And yet, he doesn’t see this as affirmative policy that’s enough to make people vote for you. He has, again, sincere limitations in his understanding and approach to topics that aren’t consistent with his primary interests, and I think it’s elaborated by how he frames such considerations as superficial and lacking in independent merit. Also:

      Clearly there is no working with a president who believes in, or will bring forth, programs or policies based on bigotry, whether it is racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia, and there can be no compromise on that. There can be no compromise on the issue of climate change, which is a threat to the entire planet.

      But if Trump is prepared to work with me and others on rebuilding our infrastructure and creating millions of jobs, on raising the minimum wage, on passing Glass-Steagall, on changing our trade policies—yes, I think it would be counterproductive on issues that working-class Americans supported and depend upon if we did not go forward.

      This is a complete and inherent contradiction.


      No, I would not say that there’s any silver lining in Trump’s victory. It is scary, and I think there are many, many people throughout this country who are very frightened about what will happen over the next four years. So I don’t see any silver lining.

      But what we are working on right now is to transform the Democratic Party. I will introduce legislation that will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Mr. Trump talks about his concern about working families. I look forward to him supporting it. I am going to introduce legislation—I or somebody else, it’s not just me—demanding pay equity for women workers. I hope Mr. Trump supports that. We’re going to have very definitive legislation on infrastructure. I hope Trump supports that. Trade policy, Trump based his whole campaign on trade. So it’s not a question of us working with Trump. It’s a question of Trump working with us.

      Can I also say that not one single bit of this has anything to do about what horrifies me about Trump or any of the immediate concerns (highlighted by ethnic violence) that are represented by the amplification of Trump and his supporters? I’m also disturbed by the fact that it isn’t even trying to address those concerns.

    • Brien Jackson says:

      I don’t know how fair that is. Here’s the thing: Sanders got whomped with non-whites in the primary and told over and over again that ecomincs-only measures didn’t address the issues of these groups. But his ridiculous caricature of identity politics here mostly shows that HE’S STILL NOT LISTENING. And Imani Gandy just tweeted an interview where Sanders singles out declining white life expectancy with no mention of non-whites. So Sanders may not want to marginalize women, POC, LGBQT, etc., but at best he’s completely blind to these issues and people unless he’s forced to give them attention. And that disqualifies him from any status as a leader of our coalition in my eyes.

      • BartletForGallifrey says:

        at best he’s completely blind to these issues and people unless he’s forced to give them attention

        Por ejemplo: His campaign website didn’t have a page on racial issues until after BLM protested him, at which point he suddenly got one, and suddenly acquired a black female press secretary.

        • D.N. Nation says:

          Bernie has all sorts of these second drafts, “what I actually meant was,”-es, token half-measures, etc.

          He was useful as a voice to specific policy concerns. That’s why I voted for him in the primary. A standard-bearer, he is not, and the cargo cultists who will follow him and only him to the ends of the earth aren’t worth bothering with long term.

          Remember when he hemmed and hawed about the workability of reparations? Oh, it was just too hard, oh, if only we’d aim for much, much lower. That’s less of a tell and more of a bullhorn.

          • Origami Isopod says:

            He was useful as a voice to specific policy concerns. That’s why I voted for him in the primary. A standard-bearer, he is not, and the cargo cultists who will follow him and only him to the ends of the earth aren’t worth bothering with long term.

            I very much agree.

  40. Rob in CT says:

    Regarding Trump’s appeal, a poster over at Balloon Juice provided this passage:

    A mixture of gullibility and cynicism had been an outstanding characteristic of mob mentality before it became an everyday phenomenon of masses. In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. The mixture in itself was remarkable enough, because it spelled the end of the illusion that gullibility was a weakness of unsuspecting primitive souls and cynicism the vice of superior and refined minds. Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.

    — Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

    Someone here, I think, first put the idea of “gullibility + cynicism” in my head. I think the comment was actually something about how cynics are often the most gullible people of all. I hadn’t thought about that before, but once I did I was like holy shit, yeah.

    And that’s where we are, I think. Trust in institutions is at all time lows (since we’ve tracked such things, anyway). Everybody is disgusted with everything, it seems.

    That’s why Trumpolini could go ’round making shit up constantly, have fact-checkers point out he was making shit up, and yet the voters thought he was more truthful than HRC.

    And look, I’m not arguing that HRC was a great candidate here. I’m just saying that even if you think she was a pretty bad candidate, there’s no actual reasonable basis for thinking that Trump is more trustworthy than her. Yet, that’s what got into people’s heads.

  41. BartletForGallifrey says:

    “No near-term political advantage derived from accommodating racism can compensate for the damaging toll it takes on our nation. What starts with internet trolls, becomes a White House appointee, then a 250-person conference, then public dehumanization of minorities…Where is our line? When will it be too much? Will there be a point at which we say that we can no longer tolerate white supremacy among us? And when that time comes, will we have the courage, strength and compassion we now lack to oppose what may then be more powerful than now? The white supremacist movement exists in contradiction to the natural truth that all men and women are created equal. Our great nation was founded upon that and other truths that have blessed it increasingly for generations. Repudiating and eradicating the white supremacist movement is a primary duty of our leaders, conservative and liberal alike. Let us do it.”

    Not Bernie Sanders.

    • Rob in CT says:


      He’s actually on shaky ground with regard to what our country was founded on (white supremacy was in the initial ingredient list for out national cake), but Ima let that go. Kudos to Mr. McMullin.

      • BartletForGallifrey says:

        If all I had was his tweetstorm there and Bernie’s speech and GQ interview, I would vote for him over Bernie.*

        I left off the first bit: “To my fellow conservatives: let us not leave it to the left alone to condemn these white supremacist Trump allies.”

        Lots of people on twitter observing that parts of the left have been rather lackluster in their condemnation.

        *Obviously IRL I would not.

        • Rob in CT says:

          Yeah and I’ll admit that seeing that in comparison to Da Bern’s output makes Bernie look worse. Not only Bernie, of course. Other Dems too (Warren’s original stance, which she may well have amended by now, springs to mind).

        • Origami Isopod says:

          Yeah… he is not a politician I’d vote for because his ideas on policy are 180 degrees from mine. But he is a decent man.

          I wonder if the “dirtbag left” is going to play his words as “proof” that “identity politics” is “neoliberalism”?

  42. Rob in CT says:

    Just saw this:

    In short, it appears as though educational levels are the critical factor in predicting shifts in the vote between 2012 and 2016. You can come to that conclusion with a relatively simple analysis, like the one I’ve conducted above, or by using fancier methods. In a regression analysis at the county level, for instance, lower-income counties were no more likely to shift to Trump once you control for education levels.11

    And although there’s more work to be done, these conclusions also appear to hold if you examine the data at a more granular level, like by precinct or among individual voters in panel surveys.

    But although this finding is clear in a statistical sense, that doesn’t mean the interpretation of it is straightforward. It seems to me that there a number of competing hypotheses that are compatible with this evidence, some of which will be favored by conservatives and some by liberals:
    ◾Education levels may be a proxy for cultural hegemony. Academia, the news media and the arts and entertainment sectors are increasingly dominated by people with a liberal, multicultural worldview, and jobs in these sectors also almost always require college degrees. Trump’s campaign may have represented a backlash against these cultural elites.
    ◾Educational attainment may be a better indicator of long-term economic well-being than household incomes. Unionized jobs in the auto industry often pay reasonably well even if they don’t require college degrees, for instance, but they’re also potentially at risk of being shipped overseas or automated.
    ◾Education levels probably have some relationship with racial resentment, although the causality isn’t clear. The act of having attended college itself may be important, insofar as colleges and universities are often more diverse places than students’ hometowns. There’s more research to be done on how exposure to racial minorities affected white voters. For instance, did white voters who live in counties with large Hispanic populations shift toward Clinton or toward Trump?
    ◾Education levels have strong relationships with media-consumption habits, which may have been instrumental in deciding people’s votes, especially given the overall decline in trust in the news media.
    ◾Trump’s approach to the campaign — relying on emotional appeals while glossing over policy details — may have resonated more among people with lower education levels as compared with Clinton’s wonkier and more cerebral approach.

    • Just_Dropping_By says:

      They also had this piece on Trump’s unpopularity: It’s not directly about the election, but the fact that Trump won despite having literally the worst net favorability rating (and by a large margin too) of a presidential candidate since that started being regularly tracked certainly throws doubt on the popular LGM theory that if only the MSM had more frequently reported on what a terrible person Trump was that it would have made a difference in the outcome.

      • Rob in CT says:

        That’s not the theory, neighborhood Johnson voter. The theory is that the media created a false equivalence between Trump’s faults and HRCs, pumping up the emails thing to absurd heights.

        • xq says:

          I think your link is actually more relevant to this. Though it doesn’t refute the theory, it is interesting that the educated, who consume more news media, swung towards Clinton while the less educated swung away. I’d say this suggests that unfavorable mainstream media coverage towards Clinton relative to Obama was probably not a major driver of the swing.

      • BartletForGallifrey says:

        the popular LGM theory that if only the MSM had more frequently reported on what a terrible person Trump was that it would have made a difference in the outcome.

        You should be careful with matches around all that straw.

    • xq says:

      We’ve known about the education gap since the primary but this is pretty compelling evidence that education (or a factor closely linked to it) really is the main factor determining the direction and size of the swing. We should probably be paying more attention to it.

      I think Silver’s last explanation is most likely–it’s identity politics along education lines. Trump doesn’t talk like an educated person is supposed to talk.

      • BartletForGallifrey says:

        it’s identity politics along education lines. Trump doesn’t talk like an educated person is supposed to talk.

        That would explain polling though, not actual votes.

    • Ronan says:

      Education was an equally important factor predicting how someone voted on brexit and (afaict) support on the continent for the far right.

    • Ronan says:

      “For instance, did white voters who live in counties with large Hispanic populations shift toward Clinton or toward Trump?”

      My understanding is *ethnic change* is the important factor here. As with brexit, multicultural areas (ie big cities) voted remain/anti trump, whereas relatively monocultural areas that had seen rapid immigration in previous decade saw swing to right

  43. Jose Arcadio Buendia says:

    The fact that Very Liberal People are acting with polysyllabic outrage to Lilla’s article probably means he has a point. Does it ever occur to you people that you have to say things to win (and not say them)?

    Was it more important that Bill Clinton called out Sistah Souljah or that when he was President he was better for civil rights than “let them burn down LA” Bush I or Bob Dole would have been?

    Was it more important for Hillary Clinton to say all the right things to prevent the need for healing sessions on campus or for her to not annoy 30,000 white people in Wisconsin so she could not appoint Jeff Sessions as attorney general.

    As long as liberals and their neurotic intellectualism compels them to be right rather than win, they will lose.

    • BartletForGallifrey says:

      Was it more important for Hillary Clinton to say all the right things to prevent the need for healing sessions on campus or for her to not annoy 30,000 white people in Wisconsin so she could not appoint Jeff Sessions as attorney general.

      While I appreciate the little “sessions/Sessions” thing you did there, this is, as we say on the twitter, a bad comment.

      • Jose Arcadio Buendia says:

        No, it’s a good comment. You just disagree with it and so does the commentariat hivemind here. That’s fine. It just means, like I said, that Lilla has a point.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      That is a truly impressive number of begged questions packed into a few sentences.

      • Jose Arcadio Buendia says:

        And Bernie just doubled down on it again today and that’s going to be the direction things go. The Berners are taking over the party. Not what I would want, but it’s just what’s happening.

        As for who has more question begging in their arguments about how Democrats should win, we’ll let the future decide.

        You want to be right. I want to win.

    • Snuff curry says:

      As long as liberals and their neurotic intellectualism compels them to be right rather than win, they will lose.


    • Snuff curry says:

      Does it ever occur to you people that you have to say things to win (and not say them)?

      How does one politick?”

  44. […] should also be noted that this race is a pretty major problem for assertions that IDENTITY POLITICS cost Clinton the election. Mark Lilla’s fevered imagination aside, the rights of the transgendered were not a prominent […]

  45. […] Remember: Democrats practice identity politics, Republicans are bracingly POLITICALLY INCORRECT. […]

  46. […] conclude with a “not a dime’s worth of difference” joke, except that I think the play here from this faction of the “left” is to say that caring too much about the rights and physical security of transgendered people is […]

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